Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Saturday night’s 8-3 loss to the Oilers was a nightmare. Total s%#t show. David Rittich was an absolute mess. Cam Talbot fought Mike Smith and was tossed, eclipsing his career total of PIM in one night. The Flames defence, outside of Mark Giordano, was atrocious. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were no-show’s again in a big game. When people were fighting, Milan Lucic was no where to be seen. Geoff Ward looked like he was in over his head. We good with that?
Now, let’s all take a deep breath and take a look at this game after being a few days removed.
What did you expect? The Flames have been like the schoolyard bully, picking on the Oilers all season. It started with a 5-1 Flames victory back on December 27th in Edmonton. The NHL then gave these two rivals a 15 day reprieve before they locked horns again on January 11th. If you recall the Flames won that game 4-3 at the Saddledome thanks to a Zack Kassian penalty that allowed the Flames to score a PPG early in the third period that turned out to be the game winner. Kassian’s mental breakdown came after Matthew Tkachuk laid some rather large and borderline hits on the Oilers tough guy. This led to an entire week of back and forth smack talk between both players as back to back games with each other were on the horizon (not to mention McDavid and Draisaitl having to play in the ASG with Tkachuk). January 29th arrived and the rematch lived up to the hype. Sean Monahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened up the fireworks with a first period fight that NO ONE saw coming. That led to Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian throwing down later in the period. The Flames ended up winning via shootout and David Rittich would toss his stick into the air after making the game winning save on Leon Draisaitl……on Edmonton’s home ice.
Now, take ALL of that into account: Calgary wins three straight. Two on Edmonton ice. Tkachuk is Tkachuk’ing. Rittich tosses his stick and “palms up” the Edmonton crowd. The division race is tight. The Conference playoff race is tight. Edmonton hates Calgary, Calgary hates Edmonton.
BOOM. The Oilers had enough. And can you blame them? The Flames showed them up on their home ice twice and did it with a cockiness and flair that put a smile on all Flames fans faces. It would be unreasonable to think the Oilers wouldn’t absolutely go ape s#&t on the Flames at some-point and give them a taste of their own medicine. Sure, the stick toss was fantastic and will go down as one of the best examples of bulletin board material in the history of the Battle Of Alberta, but that’s the kind of motivation that Connor McDavid and his team didn’t need.
The Oilers scored first Saturday, Ok, fine. But when Zack Kassian scored their second goal, you know that was all they needed. Connor McDavid would score twice. Leon Draisaitl would have a four point night (4 assists). Former Flame Mike Smith would beat up Cam Talbot in a goalie fight. Buddy Robinson would lose his fight to Jujhar Khaira. Matthew Tkachuk would be the only Flame to save face during any skirmish.
All in all it was a terrible night for the Flames. Notice the word “night.” Let’s all take a deep breath and realize these things are going to happen during the season. This one stings more because it came at the hands of the Oilers and at the Saddledome. But with that said……the Flames kind of earned this one. You can only push a team around for so long before they snap and that’s what Edmonton did. Calgary rubbed Edmonton’s nose in it one too many times and the Oilers came to collect. Sometimes you reap what you sew and that may have been just what happened Saturday night.
The Flames and Oilers will finally get a break from each other after playing four times in the span of 34 days, including three times in 20 days. The next time they will see each other will be on the final game of the regular season on April 4th. Who knows what the standings will look like at that point, but you can guarantee that this game is clearly circled on the calendar and revenge will be on everyone’s mind. It will be entertaining no matter what is at stake, but maybe everyone has learned a little bit from these last few meetings. Because while all the antics and the re-igniting of the BOA has been fantastic, it didn’t do the Flames any favours when an angry and frustrated Edmonton team slapped them around Saturday night. The playoffs are at stake here and tom foolery isn’t extending anyone’s season past April 4th. You may not like my take here, but deep down you know I’m right. It’s ok, you don’t have to admit it.
by Mark Parkinson