Last night marked the last Battle of Alberta game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers at Northlands Colliseum (I refuse to give in to the corporate take-over of our traditional game and call it Rexall Place).
Unfortunately it wasn't quite the ‘Battle' it used to be back in the glory days of the 80's. It was a one-sided game in favour of the Flames that likely would have been a bigger blowout had the Flames had anything left to play for this season besides pride. You can read more about the game in our Game Recap.
According to Wikipedia's ‘Battle of Alberta' page, the historic arena opened as Northlands Coliseum on November 10, 1974 and was home to the Edmonton Oilers of the World Hockey Association until 1979 when the they became the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League. The arena has since changed names a few times from the Edmonton Coliseum in 1995 to Skyreach Centre in 1998 and lastly to Rexall Place during the 2003/2004 season.
A year after the Oilers joined the National Hockey League the Calgary Flames followed in 1980 coming from Atlanta. Talk had already started about which team would be the best team in Alberta. Out of the gate it was the Flames in the 1980 season with 32 wins and 92 points and making it to the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After the successful inaugural season the Flames had, the Oilers became a dominant force with a heavily talented roster that included superstar Wayne Gretzky. The back half of the 80's saw the Flames and Oilers become so good that Alberta was referred to as "Death Valley" to teams stopping by on a road trip.
From 1983 to 1990 the Campbell Conference representative in the Stanley Cup Final was either the Flames or the Oilers. The Flames won 1 Stanley Cup in that time (1989) and the Oilers won 5 Stanley Cups (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990).
Head to head the Oilers beat the Flames in the playoffs in 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991. The Flames beat the Oilers in the 1986 Smythe Division Final on their way to meeting the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final. This series win intensified the rivalry after it went to a seventh game and five minutes into the 3rd period rookie Oilers defenceman Steve Smith banked an attempted pass off of Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr and into his own net. This goal was the deciding goal in the series and was the butt of many jokes and trash talk after.
Later in 1991 the Flames would etch probably the greatest all-time memory against the Oilers in our minds. Fleury would steal an errant pass from Mark Messier and beat the Oilers defence to the net to snipe the Game 6 winner in overtime in the Smythe Division Semi-Final. Fleury would celebrate by streaking all the way back down the ice and dropping to his knees at centre ice and sliding all the way down to the half-boards in the Calgary end. His celebration would be short-lived however as the Oilers would win game 7 and move on in the playoffs. It would be the last time the two teams met in the playoffs.
Head to head in the regular season seemed to be a very different story with the Flames holding an edge over the Oilers with an all-time record of 109-93-19-8. The Flames also hold the lead in goals scored 803-740. The Oilers however hold the edge in their home rink 64-49-9-6 according to a Jim Matheson article from the Edmonton Journal.
In the 2009/10 season, the Flames swept the season series against the Oilers for the first and last time by either team against one another.
This season the Flames record against the Oilers finished up at 3-1-1 and they edged the Oilers in goals scored 18-14 according to the Flames website.
Hopefuly the good old ‘Battle of Alberta' we used to see in the 80's returns to form as the Oilers head into a new arena and a new era next season.