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Markstrom in Spotlight for New Season of Battle of Alberta

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Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom
(Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire)

All eyes will be on Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom tonight.

That tends to be the case when taking on the Edmonton Oilers in another Battle of Alberta.

It’s well documented that Markstrom’s numbers are an anomaly when facing his provincial and Pacific Division rival. A look at any backstop’s stats will likely show a similar trend. That can happen when you play against two of the NHL’s elite offensive weapons in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

So, yes, while Markstrom finished second in the Vezina voting after a league-leading nine shutout season and .922 save percentage in the regular-season, he struggled against the Oilers in the second round.

They all did.

But Markstrom was the main reason the Calgary Flames got there. He was their best player in the first round as they scraped by the Dallas Stars in Game 7 overtime.

The second round was an entirely different story. He went 1-4 against the Oilers in the playoffs with a GAA of 5.12 and save percentage of .852.

Against the Oil In the regular-season, he was 2-2-0 with an .884 save percentage, allowing 14 goals in just four games.

Is all this Edmonton stuff going to be in the back of the veteran goalie’s mind tonight?

“It’s Game 2 of a new season,” he said stoically on Friday when asked about it.

“That’s more for reporters and media who dwell in the past. We have a new team and we have new goals set for this season, and that’s what we’re sticking with.

“It doesn’t matter what the other team is doing or who we’re playing. We know what we have to do. Everyone in this room is looking forward and not backwards.”

With an opportunity to chat earlier in camp, Markstrom was a little more open about the subject. He didn’t have any more insight into what goes into the underlying numbers against the Oilers. Markstrom is serious when he says he’s worried more about the win than the final score. The team in front of him also seems to get caught up in the run-and-gun style their neighbours from the north tend to attack with. Even the game

“McDavid and Draisaitl, those two guys, they live off that rush game and the speed game and their powerplay,” Markstrom said at the time.

Losing in such disappointing fashion did result in a little adjustment to Markstrom’s offseason, though. The ultimate competitor added some extra homework to his routine.

“Myself, I had to kind of look through tendencies. I watched a lot more games that I played than I’ve done previously,” he said.

In the end, though, Markstrom’s success comes from the ability to look forward.

“You’ve got to remember the big picture,” he said. “If I have great stats against them, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s about winning hockey games. “If we win 9-6 it’s obviously not ideal, but it’s a win. And it’s two points. Our goal is to finish as high as possible.

“That’s still the same as last year.”

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