|6:30 PM PT7:30 PM MT8:30 PM CT9:30 PM ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST5:30 UAE (+1)21:30 ET22:30 BRT, May 18, 2022
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta Attendance: 19,289
Flames, Oilers eager for elite Battle of Alberta series
Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames
- The Oilers and Flames split their four head-to-head games this season, with each team winning twice at home. This will be the sixth playoff series between Edmonton and Calgary, and the first since 1991. The Oilers won four of the previous five matchups. The Flames' only series win against Edmonton was in 1986 (4-3).
- Edmonton has lost Game 1 in each of its last three playoff series (2020 vs. Chicago, 2021 vs. Winnipeg, 2022 vs. Los Angeles), while Calgary has won its last four series openers (2019 vs. Colorado, 2020 vs. Winnipeg and Dallas, 2022 vs. Dallas).
- The Flames and Stars scored only 29 goals in seven games in their first-round series (Calgary 15, Dallas 14). That's the second-lowest goal total in any seven-game playoff series in Flames history. Calgary and Tampa Bay combined for 27 goals in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. The Flames lost the series despite outscoring the Lightning, 14-13.
- Connor McDavid led all NHL players with 14 points in the first round of this year's playoffs. That's the highest point total by an NHL player in one playoff series since Claude Giroux scored 14 points for the Flyers in a first-round series against Pittsburgh in 2012. It was the most points by an Oilers player in one series since 1987 (Wayne Gretzky, 15 vs. Kings).
- Mike Smith recorded two shutouts in Edmonton's series against the Kings (Games 2 and 7). The only other Oilers goalies with two shutouts in one playoff series are Curtis Joseph, who did it twice (1997 vs. Dallas, 1998 vs. Colorado), and Cam Talbot (2017 vs. San Jose).
- Matthew Tkachuk (three goals, five assists) and Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, seven assists) each scored eight points (in four games) against the Oilers this season. No other NHL player scored more than six points versus Edmonton in the 2021-22 season.
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The history of the Battle of Alberta is not lost on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
The opportunity to write a new chapter when they open their Western Conference second-round series Wednesday in Calgary means plenty.
The Flames and Oilers last met in a Stanley Cup playoff series in 1991, before many of the participants of this year's clash were even born.
"I haven't been to the second round since my first year in the league, so this is really exciting for me, especially being the Battle of Alberta," Flames defenseman Mike Stone said. "I've been in this city long enough to know what that means."
The Pacific Division-champion Flames finished seven points ahead of the Oilers during the regular season. The clubs split their four meetings, with the Oilers taking the first two clashes before the Flames won the final two.
Calgary advanced after finally dispatching the Dallas Stars, a wild-card team, in a seven-game series that went the distance because of a stellar goaltending performance from Dallas' Jake Oettinger. The Oilers also needed seven games to beat the Los Angeles Kings.
Through the past three decades, Flames-Oilers clashes boasted extra oomph, but a playoff series takes a rivalry to new levels, something Flames forward Milan Lucic learned from his days with the Boston Bruins when they met the Montreal Canadiens.
"It adds to it. The history and the rivalry, all that type of stuff," Lucic said. "It feels everything is magnified and everybody is more into it, the fans, the emotions, the media, the storylines."
The series is noteworthy for more than just the two city rivals. Edmonton is led by its dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who finished first and fourth in the league scoring race, McDavid with 123 points and Draisaitl with 110.
But the Flames boast a trio of 40-goal scorers in Johnny Gaudreau, who finished second in the scoring race with 115 points, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. The edge may be in Calgary's defensive game, which finished third in goals against, while the Oilers placed 18th.
That said, the Oilers dispatched the Kings by taking their defensive play to another level the last two games.
"We took steps just in the way the Los Angeles Kings played and their adherence to their structure," coach Jay Woodcroft said. "It forced us to do some things and forced us to solve problems to get out of our comfort zone.
"For us, I don't think anything great ever comes out of comfort zones, so it was nice to get pushed and forced to come up with different types of solutions to things."
As much as the contempt coming from familiarity will make for exciting viewing, the difference in styles and how players adapt will make the difference.
"The hype is real life. There are a lot of passionate fans in Alberta. As players we're trying not to get consumed by that," Oilers goalie Mike Smith said. "There's a lot of extra noise, but there's a focus with this group that we have a job to do, and it didn't matter who we were going to play against."
On the injury front, Calgary defenseman Chris Tanev, who missed Game 7 due to injury, practiced Tuesday and should be back in the lineup.
The Oilers practiced without forwards Draisaitl, who is nursing a suspected ankle injury, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane, but general manager Ken Holland said all three are expected to play in the series opener.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 18, 2022