172

Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers @ Calgary Flames — Game 66

Hockey Night in Canada will feature the fourth and final Battle of Alberta between the Oilers and Flames this season. Edmonton currently leads the season series with two wins in the three meetings between the teams thus far.

1. With a win on Saturday night, the Oilers would win the Battle of Alberta season series for the second year in a row and for the fourth time in seven seasons in the Connor McDavid era.

The Oilers won six of 10 meetings with the Flames in the All-Canadian Division in 2021, they edged Calgary out with three wins in five meetings in 2017-18, and Edmonton pulled off a four-game sweep in the Battle of Alberta in 2016-17.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Calgary won three of five meetings in McDavid’s rookie season in 2015-16 and they won three of four games against the Oilers in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. The two teams tied at two wins each in 2018-19.

2. Edmonton won the first meeting between the two teams this season back in October by a score of 5-2. The two teams didn’t see each other again until January 22 and the Oilers picked up a 5-3 win that ultimately snapped a seven-game losing streak. The Flames got their first win in the head-to-head with Edmonton earlier in March with a 3-1 win in Calgary. The Oilers have gone 6-1-1 since that aforementioned loss to the Flames.

3. Since Jay Woodcroft took over behind Edmonton’s bench, the Oilers have been one of the best teams in the NHL. They boast a 13-6-2 record with Woodcroft, which ranks fifth in the league in terms of points percentage over that period of time. The teams ahead of them are the Colorado Avalanche (14-6-1), the Florida Panthers (11-4-1), the Boston Bruins (14-4-2), and, of course, the Calgary Flames (15-4-2).

4. As great as the Oilers have been in the Woodcroft era, the Flames have also been so good that Edmonton hasn’t made up any ground on Calgary in the standings. The Flames sit at the top of the Pacific Division with 86 points, the L.A. Kings are in second with 79 points, the Oilers are in third with 77 points, and the Vegas Golden Knights are in fourth with 74 points.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Winning this game would bring Edmonton to seven points back of Calgary with 16 games left to catch them, though the Flames have a game in hand. That’s a pretty tough task, so the focus realistically for the Oilers is to jump the Kings in the standings and be the home team in the first round of the playoffs.

5. The Oilers and Kings will play each other two more times this season, once in Edmonton and once in Los Angeles. Edmonton has a game in hand against L.A. so they control their own destiny here. While the Oilers play the Flames on Saturday night, the Kings will be in Seattle playing the Kraken.

6. Ken Holland’s two trade deadline additions both impressed during their debuts in Edmonton’s win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Brett Kulak was paired up with Tyson Barrie and he logged 18:27 of ice-time and posted a 21-to-8 on-ice shot attempt differential. Derick Brassard played on the left wing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as centre and Jesse Puljujarvi on the right. Brassard scored a goal and had a shot attempt differential of 20-to-5.

Very, very good stuff from both of the new guys. The team looks quite a bit deeper with Kulak and Brassard in the lineup.

7. Connor McDavid is starting to run away with the Art Ross Trophy. After being held off the scoresheet in back-to-back losses to Montreal and Calgary earlier this month, McDavid has been on fire as of late, racking up six goals and 16 points over his last eight games. All told, McDavid leads the league with 95 points, with Leon Draisaitl in second with 90. The next-highest non-Oiler is Jonathan Huberdeau with 88 points and then Johnny Gaudreau with 85.

8. Gaudreau is putting together the best season of his career at the best possible time, as he’s eligible to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer. His 85 points in 64 games equates to 1.33 points-per-game, which puts him on pace to score 109 points over 82 games. Gaudreau’s career-high is 99 points, which came back in 2018-19 when the Flames had the best record in the Western Conference.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

9. What are the Flames going to do this summer? Gaudreau is going to command a massive raise from his current $6.75 million annual salary to stick around in Calgary and the team also needs to sort out new deals for restricted free agents Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, and Oliver Kylington.

Getting rid of Sean Monahan would certainly help. Once a consistent 20-goal and 60-point producer, Monahan has fallen off a cliff this season, as he only has eight goals and 22 points in 63 games. Monahan was a healthy scratch in Calgary’s win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night as the team opted to play Trevor Lewis as the fourth-line centre instead.

Monahan has one more year left on his contract worth $6.35 million. That isn’t going to be an easy contract to move.