‘They don’t like us, we don’t like them:’ Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl talks about the Battle of Alberta

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers’ second-round comeback against the Calgary Flames will forever go down as one of the most memorable moments in the past 30 years for this franchise.
After getting down 9-6 in game one, the Edmonton came back to win four straight and beat the Flames in five games. Last week, Leon Draisaitl, who scored — in that series, joined Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts Podcast and spoke about that series, and how Edmonton turned it around.
“I think what changed it before that, we were, I think it was 7-2 we came all the way back to 7-6. We had chances to tie it up late too. I think that put a little bit of doubt in their mind maybe that you got to be careful with this team. We did it against against Colorado game one. We just continued to play, play our game and in game two (against Calgary) I think we were down 2-0. They completely outplayed us and were clearly the better team. I think we scored one and found our legs and got going a little bit. I think we just really found our game, game three and four at home. We really played well and they really didn’t get much, especially game three. I think we really dominated. It was a very fun series.”
Friedman mentioned that he spoke to another Oilers teammate who said he felt the team were never in trouble. Draisaitl, meanwhile, said he thought the same.
“I never had the feeling we were in trouble either. Obviously there’s moments in the game, especially game two when you’re down 2-0, you’re like ‘oh man, we better not let this get to 3-0,’ but I think we just got rolling a little bit when we made it 2-1. We just got into a groove and just played out game.”
Marek asked Draisaitl about what it’s like playing against the Calgary Flames, and what that series was like as a whole.
Draisaitl: “I think there definitely is some extra spice there. Especially we finished one and two in our division. With the history of both organizations going on, I think there was a stat it was the first time since 1990 or something the Oilers and Flames faced each other. The media can hype it up a lot too, right?”
Friedman: “And the fans, the fans. You could tell it means to the Oilers fans.”
Draisaitl: “Oh yeah, big time. Both cities, right? You could tell Calgary too. There was just something in the air and I think those are the most fun games. There was so much tension for two weeks. There was so much going on. Every game was so hyped up. It was so much fun being a part of it. Obvoiusly, it made it so much better being on the good side of it, no question. The last couple years, the history with Kassian, Tkachuk — all those things. There was so much little pieces going on that just made it all very, very enjoyable.”
Friedman also asked about how things change with Johhny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk leaving, and Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Mackenzie Weegar coming in.
“Well, now you got Kadri and Kane going at it. (laughs) I don’t want to say going at it, who knows. They seem like two guys that will seem like they get into a scuffle every once in a while. I think it’s just two competitive teams going at it for the most part. Two really good teams. That’s a really good hockey team, right? They don’t like us, we don’t like them. I think that’s essentially what makes it most exciting: it’s two competitive teams going after the same thing.”
The new additions to the Battle of Alberta, as Draisaitl alluded to, could very well bring some sparks. Evander Kane had dumped Nazem Kadri into the boards in game one between the Oilers and Colorado Avalanche, breaking the thumb of the latter. Could things carry over into a new Alberta rivalry? Time will tell…

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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