Tonight will be the final Battle of Alberta
ever as the Flames are moving to either Seattle or Houston of the season. Here are your game day notes.
1. The Battle of Alberta has been incredibly one-sided as of late. Calgary beat the Oilers 1-0 back in mid-March, but before that, Edmonton beat the Flames seven times in a row dating all the way back to April 2016. The Oilers, regardless of tonight’s outcome, have won the season series against Calgary. They’ve now won the season series in back-to-back years, though the Flames won it in 2015-16.
2. This season, Edmonton is 3-1 against Calgary. The Flames’ one win came in that aforementioned shutout in March, but Edmonton beat them 3-0 on opening night, 7-5 in December, and 4-3 in a shootout in January. You might remember that shootout.
3. I guess one saving grace for Edmonton’s infuriating, disappointing, irritating season could be Calgary’s collapse. It’s going to be painful after last spring to sit back and watch the other teams take part in the playoffs while the Oilers are out like the Good Old Days of Darkness, but thankfully Flames fans will be forced to feel our pain. Watching Calgary and Vancouver routinely make the playoffs during the Decade of Darkness made that period of time even worse than the Oilers did on their own.
4. What happened to the Flames? When they beat the Oilers 1-0, they were 35-26-10 and were right in the thick of the playoff race. But since that game, the Flames have gone on a seven games losing streak and have now been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. That 1-0 win was the beginning of their complete collapse, but the Flames had been playing poorly for a while before that too. Before that win, Calgary only had four wins in their previous 12 games.
5. Mike Smith got hurt at the very end of a win against the Islanders on Feb. 11. He missed a month of action, and, in his absence, the Flames went 5-5-2, somewhat surprisingly salvaging their season in his absence. But since he’s returned? Smith had that 28-save shutout over the Oilers, but otherwise, he has five losses and an .841 save percentage since returning.
6. It was ultimately offence that derailed Calgary’s season, though. The Flames currently rank 26th in the league in goals for. They’re bad at scoring goals at even strength (26th) and they’re bad at scoring goals on the power play (16.28% rate, 27th). This largely has to do with a lack of depth. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Michael Ferland carry the team’s offence, scoring 75 of the team’s 204 goals. Matthew Tkachuk is the only other Flame with more than 20 goals. The team’s bottom-six is putrid, as expensive veterans Matt Stajan and Troy Brouwer have combined for 10 goals and younger players like Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar haven’t stepped up.
7. Speaking of those 20+ goal scorers, two of them, Tkachuk and Monahan, have been shut down for the season, and another, Gaudreau, could be out of the lineup due to a personal family matter. The Flames are also without TJ Brodie and possibly Travis Hamonic tonight. So we’re going to be seeing a real shell of a Flames lineup.
8. The Hamonic trade has really flopped for Calgary. At the time, it seemed like a reasonable price to pay for a stead, second-pairing defenceman. But now? The Flames are without a draft pick in the first two rounds this year and Hamonic has been thoroughly underwhelming. There’s rumblings that the Flames might look to trade Dougie Hamilton, the much superior player, in order to recoup draft picks. Dealing Hamilton to compensate for overpaying for Hamonic would be a pretty ugly series of events.
9. Thanks to that Flames pick, the Islanders currently have a nine per cent chance of selecting first overall. Their own pick right now has a six per cent chance of being selected and Calgary’s pick has a three per cent chance. Getting Rasmus Dahlin would be a nice way to lighten the blow of John Tavares leaving in free agency, which seems like a real possibility right now.
10. And finally, the McArtRoss race. Connor McDavid has 103 points and is six points clear of Nikita Kucherov. He more than likely has this in the bag at this point. The next race to focus on is the McRocketRichard, in which he’s four goals back of Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals. McDavid has already set a career-high in both goals and points this season. I’m guessing he finishes with 45 goals and 110 points. There are three games left after tonight.
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