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GDB 19.0: Ignite the Battle (7pm MT, SNW)

The first meeting between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames was on October 22nd, 1980. Edmonton won 5-3. The legend Dave Semenko scored the first goal in the Battle of Alberta, and also scored the game winner later that night. The first fight involved Mark Messier and Jim Peplinski at 11:47 of the second period. Interesting that Semenko was the goal scorer and Messier the fighter in the first ever BOA.

Semenko was on fire in October of 1980. He scored a hat trick three nights earlier at Madison Square Garden in New York and and scored his first of the season the night before that against the Islanders. His two goals against the Flames gave him six goals in three games and six goals in the first six games of the season. He didn’t score another goal in his final 61 games that season. Too bad he wasn’t around today to tell that story. He was an amazing storyteller, and one of the central figures as the BOA became the best rivalry in the National Hockey League in the 1980s.

The Flames and Oilers have met another 242 times since October 22nd, 1980, and they’ve combined for 1,618 goals and 281 fighting majors. Many nights the animosity boiled over with big hits, dirty hits, cheap shots and fights, but often we saw dazzling highlight reel goals as well.

Fans from either city have memorable moments from the 41 years.

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The Steve Smith goal.
The Marty McSorley spear on Mike Bullard.
The Messier hit on Perry Berezin or the elbow on Ric Nattress.
Pat Hughes’ five-goal game.
Tim Hunter and Dave Semenko fights.
Jim Peplinski and Mark Messier fights.
The Wayne Gretzky shorthanded goal.
The Theo Fleury overtime winner and knee slide.
Sheldon Souray and Jarome Iginla fighting.
Robyn Regehr hitting Ales Hemsky — repeatedly.
The Jason Arnott hat-trick game in 1995, which also included eight fighting majors — the most in a single BOA game.
The November game in 1996 when 10 Oilers scored a goal during their 10-1 route in Calgary.
Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Boyd fighting right off the faceoff.
The Doug Weight Goal.
Edmonton losing 18 of 20 BOAs between 2009-2012.
Edmonton winning seven straight between 2016-2018.
Connor McDavid opening night hat trick.
Matt Tkachuk’s hit(s) on Zack Kassian.
Mike Smith and Cam Talbot fight.

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I’m sure you have other moments that stand out. Share them in the comment section.

Thanks to Tkachuk, the rivalry was re-energized last season, and hopefully tonight is the starting point for more intense battles. Never before have these teams met five times in 26 days during the regular season, until now.

Starting tonight they play each other five times, with the fifth game happening on St. Patrick’s Day. The previous closest span with five games was 37 days between December 2nd, 1988, and January 8th, 1989. We likely will never see five games in 26 games again, so enjoy it and hopefully these games produce some moments that you still remember 10, 20 or 41 years later.

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LINEUP…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Ennis – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Kahun – Khaira – Archibald
Neal – Haas – Chiasson

Nurse – Barrie
Russell – Larsson
Koekkoek – Bouchard

Smith

Give Dave Tippett credit the decision to dress Kris Russell and start Mike Smith against the Jets paid off. Smith was very good again, and Russell played a lot on the PK and added an assist. I still would like to see Caleb Jones back in, but he will have to wait until tomorrow.

James Neal draws in and the struggling Kyle Turris will sit out for the first time this season. Turris hasn’t got much traction yet, and maybe a night off will help him.

FLAMES

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Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Gaudreau – Monahan – Simon
Lucic – Backlund – Dube
Nordstrom – Froese – Bennett

Giordano – Valimaki
Hanifin – Tanev
Mackey – Andersson

Rittich

Since the Oilers won seven BOAs in a row, Calgary is 8-3 in the last 11, and are 4-1 over last season and the first game this year. Markstrom defeated the Oilers 6-4 two weeks ago, but Dave Rittich will get his third start of the season tonight. He played 12 minutes in relief Wednesday in Vancouver, but he hasn’t started a game since February 2nd against Winnipeg. In his two starts against the Jets and Canadiens he has allowed seven goals on 49 shots. He has a .868sv% and 3.23 GAA this season.

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In his 13 starts since his shootout win over the Oilers on January 29th, 2020, and his infamous stick flip, Rittich has posted a .881sv%, with a 3.38 GAA and a record of 4-8-1. The Oilers need to take advantage of a goalie who hasn’t posted good numbers in over a calendar year.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Flamesnation.ca:

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Just 48 hours after a fairly bland performance against Vancouver, the Calgary Flames (8-7-1, 17 points) are back in action and have a big test on their hands in the form of the visiting Edmonton Oilers (10-8-0, 20 points). The Oilers are beginning to find their stride, and Connor McDavid continued to do good hockey things and hit 500 points in his last outing. The Flames need to play smart, structured two-way hockey because otherwise this could be a long night at the office.

The Flames were not very good against Vancouver, simply out. They hope to have a better start, a better middle and a better finish against their most bitter rival. They won’t have any challenges getting emotionally engaged in this game, but hopefully they can execute more efficiently in their transition game. When the Flames are skating and moving the puck well, they’re a really dangerous team (and fun to watch). When they’re standing still and making thoughtless decisions with the puck, they can be a bit of a push-over.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers continue their strong play and improve to 8-2 in their last 10 games with a 4-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tyson Barrie continues to produce as he picks up his 13th point in his last 11 games.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Upon discovering that the NSOGDP was left blank ahead of posting, Baggedmilk slides into the back end and fills in the gap with a note of appreciation for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Inspired by the good vibes, RNH scores another big powerplay goal that sets the team on the path to victory. Gregor then takes credit for Baggedmilk’s prediction.

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