The last time the Stanley Cup playoffs gave us the Battle of Alberta, I was in class 13. They got rid of class 13 a long time ago. So, here she is. The year 1991 feels like a century has passed. Esa Tikkanen was Game 7 overtime champ for the Oilers in a 5-4 win and what a great streak.
What if we had seven classic matches after 31 years? here hopes.
For that to happen, the Oilers need to challenge people’s expectations about the hockey world for the series. Pacific Division Champion, Flames, is a strong candidate. I’ve rounded up rival executives and coaches from across the NHL about the Battle of Alberta. This is what they had to say.
Implementation Team No. 1
When looking at direct matches, Calgary is the clear winner. Their target is younger, but experienced, and superior to Edmonton.
Flames’ defense will continue to effectively puck out of danger as well, but it will be more physical and aggressive against Edmonton’s attackers than Los Angeles has been. They have the potential to make life a lot more miserable for McDavid & Draisaitl than LA has ever been able to.
Up front, Calgary’s depth and balanced goals are better than Edmonton’s score. Moreover, their size advantage and tenacity factor in the last six will play an important role in a long emotional streak.
Darryl Sutter has a lot more experience in playoffs and in tight matches, I think he will have the upper hand, especially with the ice advantage on his home ground.
Edmonton fans are going to go crazy which will help them with this series. However, provided Calgary remains healthy, it has many advantages for Edmonton to contend with, especially if Draisaitl isn’t 100 percent.
Implementation Team No. 2
I will say Calgary will win. In fact, the Flames team made it to the finals with Tampa Bay. I think only with Dallas, but for Oettinger, this team has not been able to survive the last four games. Calgary was really good. Oettinger was awesome. Daryl Sutter summed it up perfectly when he said, “We were the better team.” There was no question about him. I think the Flames team are very well trained, they have a little more experience. I think Woody is going to be a very good coach in the NHL, I don’t think the time has come yet. Calgary gets an advantage in goal. Up and down the lineup, they are deeper. Johnny Goudreau is on a whole other level now. Contract year. I know Conor McDavid is a hell player, arguably the best in the world, but I generally think when the push comes to shove, the advantage goes to Calgary. I’m going with Calgary.
Implementation Team No. 3
Calgary was impressive (in the first round)… They’re heavy and big, and their top streak really started as the series went on. Gaudreau was on a different level. Free players (Mangiapane, Dube) played quickly. Mikael Backlund will probably attract Conor McDavid for matches. Backlund was greasy in all sitcoms (versus Dallas). The special teams were good. Their PK was great and will need to be again. The rear end was solid… (Chris) Tanev’s injury could be a problem if he’s out for too long. When they went 11F/7D it affected the matches so it will be interesting to see if they go that route but with Tanev out it might be hard to go that way. In the end, Markstrom will be in the net a key, the stars are not finished, if the Edmonton boys score a goal you never know. However I think Calgary is going to be tough.
Implementation Team No. 4
Calgary at 6. Markstrom and the details on which CGY plays will be different. Oettinger made the DAL series but it wasn’t even close to IMO. MacDavid & Company. He’ll let Edmonton hang out but Smith can’t outsmart Markstrom and CGY plays it the right way. Sutter has done an excellent job. ”
exec team number 5
The flames are, in my opinion, a better and better team. They played game seven almost perfectly except for Oettinger. But McDavid appears to be on a mission.
I’ll go with Flames to build the team overall and a much better goalkeeper. ”
Implementation Team No. 6
Both teams are now battle tested and obviously successful early on with Game 7 and Calgary victories with a big win in overtime that gives everyone some extra confidence. I give Calgary an edge and have really loved their team all season. Experienced players play clincher-heavy style led by one of the best coaches in the league with Daryl! As good as he is – a proven and experienced winner – he’s had them play hockey in the playoffs since their first game of the season. That combined with the best goalkeeper in the Western Conference and a great combination of skill, puck-moving ability, and accessory hardness – it’s tough to play against!
Up front – one of the best lines in the league along with depth and veteran experience with Lucic and Coleman, they play the right way and are set up for success in the supplement. All respect and appreciation to the Oilers because they have progressed and they are a very good team but I don’t see them beating Calgary. I think Calgary could challenge Colorado and anyone else they might encounter if they were lucky enough to get ahead, which I think they would do.
Implementation Team No. 7
I have to go with Calgary. Much deeper team and Markstrom in the network. More experience behind the bench, too. 97 in the world at the moment, but Drysettl’s injury should be worrisome.”
Coach No. 1
It’s somewhat even in teams that are special to me. Five on five goes to Calgary, even though Edmonton has the two best players. I think the Calgary mill could have a similar effect on Edmonton as it did in Dallas exhaustion over the course of a long streak, goal-guiding goes in Calgary’s favour.
Calgary wins in a series of six or seven games.
coach number 2
I think Calgary is at 5 or 6. I don’t trust Edmonton D or the goalkeeper or the coaching. I think Calgary has more depth and they are much better than Los Angeles
Coach No. 3
Flames Markstrom has good depth in D and good four streaks… I always go with the team with the best goalkeeper… Look at Vasilevskiy vs the Leafs.
Coach No. 4
So, it wasn’t even close to picking the NHL community a winner in the Battle of Alberta, which is unsurprising when you consider the article I wrote last month, just before the end of the regular season in which I collected eight opposing team managers and all eight chose Calgary as Canada’s best bet to end the drought. In our country’s Stanley Cup ahead of Toronto and Edmonton.
Having said that, regardless of the headline numbers for Calgary v Dallas, they were pushed to the brink by a wild card team just as the Oilers were pushed by the underdog L.A.
This is what I would say too. A year ago, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs played their first playoff series since 1979. Each clue points to a series that the Leafs should have easily won. But funny things sometimes happen between top competitors. I mean, this year’s oilers are a lot closer to the flame than they were last year’s lockup at least on paper. The difference is that while the Canadians had Carrie Price to win the goalkeeper fight, the Oilers need at least Mike Smith (0.938 first-round savings) until Jacob Markstrom (.943 first-round savings) if he doesn’t overtake him. . Possible? No. But not impossible either.
Yes, I think the Flames are a deservedly favorite in this series with Oilers. But it’s Alberta’s first fight since 1991 and I don’t think you ignore the emotion that will surround this series as an X-factor.
All things being equal, I also expect Flames to win this series. But can all things be equal in such a fraught battle in Alberta?
It’s an honor to be on hand, I’ll let you know. I can not wait.
(Top image: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)