Well, here we are. The Oilers will wrap up the 2018-19 season with a Saturday night edition of the Battle of Alberta in Calgary. While the Flames have Stanley Cup aspirations and the Oilers will be watching the draft lottery, it would be nice to finish out the season on a positive note by giving the Flames a beating.
1. This will be the fourth Battle of Alberta this season. The Flames have won two of the games thus far, including a 4-2 win in November in Calgary and a 5-2 win in Edmonton in January, while the Oilers squeaked out a 1-0 win in Edmonton back in December. With a win, the Oilers could manage to tie the season series with the Flames. The Flames haven’t beaten the Oilers in a season series since the 2015-16 season in which they won three of the five meetings between the teams.
The Oilers are also winless in games in which we take a bus full of Nation fans down to the Saddledome to watch the game. So let’s break the curse and make this the first winning #NATIONROADTRIP!
2. There will be a few interesting individual storylines to follow in tonight’s game. First and foremost, Leon Draisaitl is just one goal away from reaching the 50-goal plateau. He would be the first Oiler since the 80s to complete the feat. You have to figure Connor McDavid will be looking to feed him all night. On the other side, Johnny Gaudreau needs two points to reach the 100-point plateau. If he does, he would become the first Flame to reach the century mark since Theo Fleury did so back in 1992-93.
3. Jarome Iginla came close a few times but was never able to reach 100 points. He had 96 points in 20001-02, the year he won the Rocket Richard Trophy, and he had 98 in 2007-08. Other than Iginla, no Flame has really come close to hitting 100 points since the mid-90s.
4. It’s the same thing with Draisaitl and the 50-goal mark for the Oilers. The Oilers had a lot of 50 goal seasons in their history. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, and Jari Kurri all reached the 50-goal plateau with the Oilers, but, of course, all of them came in the 1980s. Outside of this season, the closest an Oiler has come to scoring 50 goals since the end of the glory days would be Ryan Smyth’s 39-goal season in 1996-97 and Connor McDavid’s 41-goal season last year.
5. Beyond just Oilers history, Draisaitl would be joining a pretty impressive group of post-lockout 50-goal scorers. Since 2005-06, here are the players who have hit the 50-goal plateau: Alex Ovechkin (eight times), Ilya Kovalchuk (twice), Steven Stamkos (twice), Dany Heatley (twice), Jonathan Cheechoo, Corey Perry, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, and Vincent Lecavalier.
6. Speaking of Ovechkin, Draisaitl could pass the legendary sniper in the Rocket Richard Trophy race if he has a huge game tonight in Calgary. Ovechkin currently has 51 goals with one game remaining in his season. The Capitals will play the New York Islanders on Saturday night. If Draisaitl scores a hat-trick and Ovechkin doesn’t light the lamp against New York, Draisaitl would win the Rocket Richard. Ovechkin has won the Richard in six of the past seven seasons and eight times in total in his 14-season NHL career thus far.
7. I’m interested to see if Ovechkin can pass Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record. While many of Gretzky’s records are unbreakable barring some major rule change that brings scoring back to the level of the 1980s, I think breaking his 894 goal total is possible. Ovechkin currently sits 13th in all-time goals with 658. That puts him 237 goals shy of passing Gretzky, which is obviously no small feat. Ovechkin, who turns 34 in September, would have to play five more seasons averaging somewhere around 50 per year goals to make it happen. He plays a game that will continue to age well given a lot of offence comes from shooting on the power play rather than the reckless style we saw early in his career, but that’s a big task for a player in his late 30s.
8. There’s also Tobias Rieder, who has another kind of record facing him. If Rieder doesn’t score a goal, he’ll set a new record for most shots taken in a season by a forward without scoring a goal. Rieder, through 66 games, hasn’t lit the lamp despite taking 90 shots on goal. Craig Adams had 84 shots on goal in 82 games in a goalless 2009-10 season with the Penguins. Thankfully for Adams, he had the fallback net of being a solid depth player on the Cup-winning Penguins the year before.
9. Riley Sheahan of the Detroit Red Wings was in the same territory as Reider a couple of years ago. On the final day of the season, Sheahan didn’t have a goal. He had played 79 games, recording 106 shots on goal, and couldn’t bury one. On that final day, though, Sheahan managed to score two goals against the New Jersey Devils to avoid having the infamy of an 80-game, 100-plus shot goalless season. At the very least, if Rieder doesn’t score, at least he can say he only played 67 games.
10. All 31 teams save for the Anaheim Ducks will be in action tonight, though there isn’t much left to be decided. The Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Avalanche, and Stars all clinched playoff spots prior to the final day of the season, so all tonight’s action will determine is playoff seeding and draft lottery odds. Carolina and Columbus will be playing to avoid facing Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs, Dallas and Colorado will be playing to avoid facing Calgary in the first round of the playoffs, and Winnipeg, Nashville, and St. Louis are playing for top spot in the Central Division. Since Anaheim won their last game of the year against L.A., the Oilers can finish no higher than 25th in the league.
From peewee to the pros, Albertans loves the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 4/6/2019 – 8:00 am MT