The Carolina Hurricanes expected to head West this week to find teams in disarray in Edmonton and Calgary.
The Oilers were winless in 13 straight games, one loss shy of the franchise record. The Flames, in turn, had lost nine in a row before finding someone they could beat - the Oilers, who lost to Calgary 6-1 on Saturday.
But the Canes discovered Monday that the Oilers still have some life left. The NHL's worst team ended its hapless streak against the Hurricanes, taking a 4-2 victory at Rexall Place.
"They've been desperate for something good to happen," Canes coach Paul Maurice said of the Oilers, using a phrase that described his own team much of the season.
Moving on to Calgary, the Canes will face a Flames team tonight that bears little resemblance to the Flames of, oh, four days ago.
Talk about a facelift. Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter has opened what many believe will be the NHL trade floodgates, bringing in four players from the Toronto Maple Leafs and two from the New York Rangers.
Into Calgary have come forwards Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman, Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins along with defenseman Ian White. The price was steep - the Flames gave up defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Leafs and forward Olli Jokinen to the Rangers, among others - but the megatrades have thoroughly transformed the look of the team.
The impact wasn't immediate. With the four former Leafs - Stajan, Mayers, Hagman and White - in the lineup, the Flames were beaten 3-0 Monday by the Philadelphia Flyers at the Saddledome.
Tonight, all six newcomers could be on the ice for the Flames.
"That's a challenge," Maurice said. "Whenever you bring new guys in, they always want to make that impression. Sometimes it takes a little while for everybody to get in sync, but they'll come hard. They'll be going."
The Hurricanes could soon be in for a few changes, with trade speculation swirling in NHL circles about the possible landing spots for players such as Ray Whitney, Matt Cullen, Niclas Wallin and Aaron Ward, all unrestricted free agents after the season. While the NHL trade deadline is March 3, many deals could be wrapped up this month before the two-week break for the Winter Olympics.
Such talk can be distracting, but Canes captain Eric Staal said it had no effect on Monday's loss to the Oilers that ended a season-best four-game winning streak.
"We're not focused on that," Staal said. "We're just worried about our team and our game.
"That's part of the business and part of the NHL, and when those things happen you deal with them. But right now we're just focused on our team and trying to get wins."
The Canes took an early 1-0 lead against the Oilers on Andrew Alberts' power-play blast, and Jussi Jokinen later added a power-play goal that tied the score 2-2 in the second period. But Edmonton answered in the second with goals from Marc Pouliot and then Sam Gagner on a power play to take a 4-2 lead, and held off the Canes in the third.
The Canes appeared to have the advantage in net with Cam Ward playing his best hockey of the season. But Ward was only average and the Oilers' Jeff Deslauriers the winning goaltender.
"Cam's really been the difference for us through the last two weeks," Maurice said after the game. Carolina played a man short against the Oilers. Injured forwards Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu are on the trip but neither was ready to play, and the Canes went with a 19-man lineup.
Maurice said Tuesday that defenseman Joe Corvo, out since Dec. 9 with a leg laceration, was probable for today's game. The Canes also on Tuesday recalled forward Steven Goertzen from the Albany River Rats of the AHL.
Maurice said a decision on the 20-man lineup would be made after today's morning skate.
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