Random Thoughts: Battle of Alberta Recap

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
After having a day to think about the Battle of Alberta wrapping up, I figured that I would put together a few thoughts to recap the series and get your feedback on everything that’s happened so far.


Seeing as the biggest story to come out of Game 5 was the ‘no goal’ call on @Blake Coleman late in the third period, I figured we may as well start there. If I’m being honest — and I wrote this in the Wrap Up that night — I was stunned that the goal was disallowed as I didn’t personally see a distinct kicking motion from Coleman on the play or enough evidence to overturn the call on the ice. Of course, I was happy but I didn’t think we would get that lucky either — I thought it was a good goal. That said, as soon as the call came down from Toronto, the first thought I had was that the Oilers needed to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. They needed to end the series right then and there rather than giving the Flames even an ounce of hope that they would be able to climb their way back, and that’s exactly what happened. As much as I understand why Flames fans are upset, they should probably be more pissed off that their team blew two separate two-goal leads at home and lost both games. One call — controversial or not — is not the reason the Flames lost that series. The reality is that they weren’t very good. Besides, who’s to say that the Oilers wouldn’t have been able to come back and tie the game in the last six minutes anyway? It’s not like they hadn’t already done it a bunch of times.


What can you say about the job @Connor McDavid and @Leon Draisaitl did in the second round that hasn’t already been said? On a nightly basis, those two made so much magic together and it was so much fun to see them have their way with the Flames regardless of who they were facing. It’s honestly hard to describe how amazing these two were as they put up a combined 29 points against a team that had been so good defensively all season. Yet, in the playoffs, the Flames couldn’t find a way to shut them down in even the smallest way. Not to mention, we knew before the series even got started that Draisaitl was battling an ankle injury, but that didn’t stop him from setting a trio of NHL records and outscoring Calgary’s whole top line over the course of those five games. McDavid and Leon were fantastic individually but together they were unstoppable. From Game 1 until Connor wrapped things up in OT, these two were incredible to watch and I hope everyone took a minute or two to appreciate what we were seeing because this was a historic series for both guys. Truly stunning in every way.


Another one of my favourite things about this series was the bulletin board material that the Flames kept giving our boys bulletin board material throughout the series, and there was no better example than Tkachuk and Andersson saying that “one guy” beat them after the Game 3 dismantling. Well, as it turns out, that ‘one guy’ ended up being a lot of different guys as the Oilers were able to get key contributions from basically everyone they had in the top six. Whether it was @Evander Kane pumping home five goals (5G, 1), @Zach Hyman scoring in every single game (6G, 2A), or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins bookending Game 4 with a pair of clutch markers (2G, 4A), the Oilers got more contributions from throughout their lineup than the Flames did and it wasn’t particularly close. From my side of the TV screen, our side got the performances they needed by key players whereas the opposition can’t really say the same.


With goals in all five games — he had six in total — I guess the Maple Leafs really missed out on what @Zach Hyman could do if he could only make it past the first round. Jokes aside, I love the way this guy plays hockey. Hyman is basically 2000% effort on each and every shift and I wanted to make sure to give him some love for that hustle. Not only is he making a massive difference on the ice, but he’s also winning this city over in a big way and it’s a real pleasure to watch him do his thing.


What an adventure the goaltending was in the Battle of Alberta, amirite? In the days leading up to Game 1, we heard a lot about the goaltending advantage the Flames had with @Jacob Markstrom over @Mike Smith but that’s not at all the way it played out. Now, I’m not saying that everything was sunshine and roses on our end — Rogers Place got Tuesday night in January quiet after the 132-foot goal in Game 4 — but Mike Smith found a way to come up with more saves when we needed them than Markstrom could for the Flames. I mean, would you have believed me before the series started if I told you that Markstrom would allow 4+ goals in all five games and that Smith would finish with the higher save%? You would have told me I was nuts. Yet, when all was said and done, the 40-year-old tender that no one gave credit to came out on top. Schmiddy battled, Markstrom couldn’t match.


For a group that didn’t get a whole lot of credit throughout the season, the Oilers’ defensive group deserves a lot of credit for the way they’ve come together throughout this post-season. Again, I’m not suggesting that they were perfect but I am absolutely saying that we’re getting more from this back end than anyone could have imagined back in December when the sky was falling on us. I don’t know what Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson are doing back there but they’ve got the boys buzzin’ on defence, including some timely goals throughout the playoffs from everyone that plays key minutes. Whether it was Keith putting up four points in the series, Ceci’s continued quiet calmness, Nurse playing through a really tough injury, or Bouchard tagging Calgary with three goals on blasts from the point, the Oilers’ defenders came up with a big series against a team that had plenty of skill on it and I’m offering a big shout out to those guys for what they’ve accomplished so far.


He hasn’t played in a single game during this playoff run but that hasn’t stopped Devin Shore from being the ultimate hype man. Check out the reaction after McDavid’s OT winner on Thursday night. The guy is as pumped as anyone and I absolutely love to see it.


Lastly, the Jay Woodcroft power stance will always be funny to me. I love it so much.


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