(No proofreading, we die like men)
I don’t think I am mentally prepared for this game. The Battle of Alberta will be taking the center stage tonight in the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and it is going to be the best. A battle that feels as if it is as old as hockey itself: the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. These games are synonymous with big fights, critical goals, and a boiling hot rivalry that is never put out. Be it preseason, regular season, or playoffs, these two teams just know how to make a game into an event.
As for tonight’s Game One kick-off, both sides are going to be a little gassed since both Edmonton and Calgary just fought their way out of one of the many First Round’s seven-game series.
The Oilers took down the Kings in seven games. Connor McDavid, better known as McJesus at this point, put up 14 points (4G 10A) in that series, he’s followed by Evander Kane (7G 2A) and Leon Draisaitl (5G 4A) with 9 points apiece. Mike Smith, despite being a rare 39-year-old goaltender, finished that seven-game series with a .938 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA. Goaltending has been a struggle for them all season long but Smith stepped up big to help his team make it to the second round.
On the other side of the ice is the Calgary Flames, who I was following more closely considering they were playing against my Dallas Stars last round. Well, that series went seven games and it took a Johnny Gaudreau OT goal to finally kill the Stars. Regardless, that was heated. Both Dallas and Calgary have some big hitters and they clashed on more than one occasion, especially in Game One. I expect nothing to change for them as they head in to play their biggest rival.
The Flames, much like Edmonton, kept on one goaltender throughout the whole First Round. Jacob Markstrom picked up where he left off in the regular season. Markstrom finished the seven-game Dallas series with a .943 save percentage and a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 1.53, not to mention he hosted another shutout in that time. His additional playoff shutout brings Markstrom’s 2021-22 shutout total to 10. He’s been rocking and rolling all season so I doubt Flames’ coach Darryl Sutter will be keen on benching him.
As for the Flames’ offense, I think Johnny Gaudreau is going to pop off this series. He led the Flames’ in points with 8 (2G 6A) through Round One but he struggled to get some goals on the board. After his OT winner the other night, I think things are going to change for him. He’s also got wonderful teammates in Matthew Tkachuk (6pts, 1G 5A) and Elias Lindholm (5pts, 3G 2A) who are ready to help him push this team a little further. They’ve had help from up and down the lineup when it comes to scoring, same as during the regular season. They’re hopefully going to have Chris Tanev, the tank on defense who missed game seven, back tonight. Things are looking good for the Flames.
Regardless of what this outcome will be, it will be good. My Best Friend Hannah, who I have recently pulled into hockey, has taken to calling this series the “Alberta Smackdown” and it shall be just that. These teams can’t stand each other and baby, doesn’t that make the best rivalries? Puck drop is at 8:30PM CT and I’ll be counting down the minutes until it’s here.
To prepare, may I present to you this glorious compilation of the Battle of Alberta from throughout the years:
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Featured Image: NHL.com