After getting dropped by a score of 3-1 on Thursday, the Oilers will have a chance to redeem themselves on Hockey Night in Canada as they host the Flames for the final Battle of Alberta of the 2021 season.
1. Thursday’s game was obviously very underwhelming but, as I mentioned in the post-game notes, it was as much as a scheduled loss as you’ll have. The Oilers played on Wednesday in Winnipeg, travelled home, and then played on Thursday, while the Flames had been off since Monday. You don’t like to go ahead and make excuses, but that was certainly an unfavourable matchup for the Oilers. Anyways, there won’t be any excuses on Saturday night as both the Oilers and Flames were off on Friday and are equally rested.
2. Saturday night’s game will mark the 10th and final Battle of Alberta of this unique season. The Oilers have won five meetings while Calgary has won four. That means that a Flames victory would result in a 5-5 tie in the season series. The Oilers and Flames tied their four-game season series in 2018-19, a season in which Edmonton missed the playoffs and Calgary finished at the top of the Western Conference. The 2017-18 season represents the last time Edmonton won the Battle of Alberta season series, as they won three of five meetings. Both Alberta teams missed the playoffs that year.
3. To be honest, this year’s Battle of Alberta was wildly underwhelming. Over the past two seasons, we had seen quite a bit of a rivalry build and there were many intense and exciting games, like the one where David Rittich flipped his stick and the one where Cam Talbot and Mike Smith dropped the gloves. But this year? Not much. The Oilers have done a better job than they have in the past of not buying into Calgary’s pesky play and getting overly emotional. On the other side, the Flames have been more listless this year than in previous seasons.
4. The Flames are in desperation mode right now. They have nine games left and they’re six points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Canadian Division. Calgary has no more head-to-head meetings with Montreal so there really isn’t any room for error left for them. They play Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and then Vancouver four times to finish the season. Montreal will see Ottawa twice, Toronto twice, and Edmonton twice.
5. With Montreal’s win over Winnipeg on Friday night, the Oilers are in a very good spot to lock up second place in the Canadian Division. They have two games in hand on the Jets and they’re three points ahead of them in the standings. The Oilers are in total control of their own destiny when it comes to locking up the second seed.
6. Connor McDavid was held without a point in Edmonton’s 3-1 loss on Thursday. Before that game, he had produced a whopping 15 points over the course of his last five games. McDavid’s head-to-head against Calgary has been strange this year. They’ve held him pointless in three of nine meetings (he’s been held pointless 11 times this season) but McDavid has 15 points in nine Battle of Alberta games all told. He exploded for a five-point game over the Flames in February and also had a couple of three-point games in March against Calgary. Let’s hope he has one of those big showings in the last BoA of the season.
7. In order for McDavid to reach the 100-point plateau this year, he’ll need to operate at a two-points-per-game pace the rest of the way. The Oilers have eight games left and McDavid needs 16 more points. Tonight’s game and the two Montreal games might be tough but there are five games against the Canucks left to go in which McDavid could really go off.
8. The Oilers quietly put together a good month of April, going 7-3-1. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since losing a pair of road games to the Canucks and Flames all the way back in mid-March. You have to go back to the three-game sweep against Toronto to find the last time before that in which the Oilers dropped consecutive games. They’ve been very, very good this season at bouncing back after losses.