Flames vs. Oilers: A Battle 31 Years in the Making
A playoff Battle of Alberta. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers will meet in Round Two of the NHL playoffs for the first time in 31 years.
It hasn’t happened since 1991, when the Oilers beat the Flames in seven games. This year alone, it took two Game 7 victories in the first round to ensure it will finally take place again.
The Oilers were waiting for their next opponent after ousting the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Saturday. Johnny Gaudreau made sure the Calgary Flames did their part to make the dream matchup a reality – scoring the biggest goal of his career in overtime on Sunday to give the Flames a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars and advance to the second round for the first time since 2015.
Still wired from the thrilling finish, Gaudreau allowed himself to look forward toward what will undoubtedly be the most intense environment imaginable.
“I’ve been here for nine years and never had even a sniff of a chance to play (Edmonton) in the playoffs. It’s pretty special,” Gaudreau said from the podium on Sunday.
“Good for the province. It’s going to be a lot of fun for them, for us; it’s going to be a pretty cool series.”
Pretty cool series might be underplaying the emotion a little. The Battle of Alberta: fan edition, has already begun on social media channels. The players will likely match that intensity on the ice starting on Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
“It’ll be exciting – it’s great for all of Alberta,” said Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, whose antics against the Oilers have made for some captivating regular-season matchups over the years.
“Honestly really haven’t allowed myself to think about it yet. It’s too fresh from this,” Tkachuk added after the overtime win. “I’m probably just going to enjoy this one tonight and turn the page tomorrow.”
The book is going to be a thriller. A riveting page-turner.
The Matthew Tkachuk Friendship Tour Continues
Past matchups with the Oilers helped spawn the Matthew Tkachuk Friendship Tour concept. His brother, Brady, is currently wearing that on a red t-shirt while taking in playoff action in the first round.
There is a real dislike and natural rivalry there. It’s only going to be amplified in the playoffs.
That said, discipline is going to be an important component of any winning Flames strategy. Connor McDavid and the Oilers are deadly on the powerplay, while the Flames enjoyed more even-strength success in their four head-to-head battles this season.
They split the series 2-2.
Fresh off the Game 7 win, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter was only planning on one thing for his players.
“I want them to get a rest,” Sutter said. The coach gave the Flames the day off on Monday. The same didn’t apply to himself and his staff.
“We’ll get to work (Monday), the staff. It’s another part of it. You look at our staff, too, it’s a big step for them. They haven’t been in Game 7s either.”
For Sutter, a native of Viking, Alberta, the novelty of having two teams going head to head in the province is not lost on him.
“Being from Alberta, I think we’ve got like six generations of (Sutters) now. So to have two teams here is pretty unique,” he said.
“Pretty lucky to have two Canadian teams still playing.”
Battle of Alberta Schedule
Game 1 – Wednesday, May 18 – 7:30 p.m. – Edmonton at Calgary (CBC/Sportsnet)
Game 2 – Friday, May 20 – 8:30 p.m. – Edmonton at Calgary (CBC/Sportsnet)
Game 3 – Sunday, May 22 – 6 p.m. – Calgary at Edmonton (CBC/Sportsnet)
Game 4 – Tuesday, May 24 – 7:30 p.m. – Calgary at Edmonton (CBC/Sportsnet)
*Game 5 – Thursday, May 26 – TBD – Edmonton at Calgary (TBD)
*Game 6 – Saturday, May 28 – TBD – Calgary at Edmonton (TBD)
*Game 7 – Monday, May 30 – TBD – Edmonton at Calgary (TBD)