If the Edmonton Oilers could do to their opponents what they've done to their fans this season, they might still be in the playoff hunt.
The club dropped an 8-1 decision Saturday night to the Calgary Flames, delivering yet another gut punch to a fanbase that's been doubled over for months.
In what's becoming a running theme this season, one fan was disgusted enough to toss his blue and orange jersey onto the ice. But what made this incident a little more notable was that at least one Oiler was disgusted enough by the gesture to throw it right the hell back.
Watch Ben Scrivens return the favour here:
This is Edmonton right now. Incredible.
That said, it's tough for just about anyone else in Canada to revel in the pain of the Oiler fan. As much of a tire fire as Edmonton is, one can't help but notice that most of the rest of the country is just as stunned by the poor quality of their hockey team.
It's really only fitting that the anthem up here is Oh, Canada. The nation's pro clubs have been uniformly sigh-inducing in 2013-14, a historically bad season for Canadian hockey.
With 80 points, the Maple Leafs are currently holding down the first wild card spot in the East, but they've lost 4 straight. They're not only one point up on both Detroit and Washington, and only two points up on Columbus. What's worse, Detroit and Columbus both have games in hand.
Their fate isn't even their own anymore. Toronto will need a little good fortune, and one look at the last six months of hockey suggests that Canada used up all of their good fortune winning gold at the Olympics.
Nothing has gone right. In the nation's capital, the Senators were supposed to be a contender this year, but unless the pundits were all whispering "for the draft lottery" under their breath, we were way wrong about them.
Over in the Western Conference, barring a miracle, this will be the first time ever that the Western Conference playoffs (a thing since 1993) have commenced without a Canadian club.
Calgary and Edmonton are, as established, quite bad. Last night's game raised the following question: what's worse -- losing by seven goals, or losing by seven goals to the Calgary Flames? (I'm saying the latter. When the Flames drop a touchdown -- with two-point conversion -- on you, things have gone poorly.)
It wasn't supposed to be this way in Edmonton. They didn't have Ottawa's expectations, but many felt this was the year they challenged for a playoff spot at least. Instead, they've existed primarily as an argument for relegation.
Speaking of disappointments, the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets were supposed to challenge for playoff spots as well. They haven't, although they are still marginally in the hunt. Both teams would likely have to run the table and get extremely lucky even beyond that to get in.
That seems unlikely. Winnipeg has just two regulation wins in their last 10. They don't look like a table runner. At best, they're a bunch of old placemats.
And Lord knows Vancouver isn't getting lucky this season. They've been cursed since October. They're not completely out of it, mind you -- just mostly. The Canucks are 4-6-0 in their last 10, although they may be getting Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler back from injury on Sunday, and a win against Buffalo will be their first two-game win streak since mid-January. So, you know, there's hope.
Based on how seriously Canada's clubs (save Montreal) have bombed the campaign, you could argue that this could wind up as Canada's worst year ever for NHL hockey: really, the only Canadian team outperforming expectations is the Flames, and that's only because those expectations were crazy low.
Unless the Maple Leafs can turn it around and hold onto their spot, or Vancouver can pull off a miracle run to rep the West, this will be the first time since 1973 that the playoffs have featured only one Canadian team.
(Granted, maybe that bodes well for Canada. It was the Montreal Canadiens then, as it would be now, and they blazed their way to a Stanley Cup. But that seems pretty unlikely for a team that seems to think Douglas Murray should get ice time. Seriously, using Douglas Murray is like using a scarecrow to defend your house against burglars. He's a physical presence, sure, but he's pretty easy to walk around.)
Honestly, one wonders about the mental state of Canadian hockey fans if this season hadn't featured a break in which the country was allowed to assemble a super-team. Thank God for the Olympics.
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