What to expect from next years Battles of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing3 months ago
It’s a damn shame the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will meet just three times in the regular season next year.
Game one goes October 15th then again on the 29th. Game three won’t go until a few months later on December 27th.
Coming off the first playoff Battle of Alberta since 1991 last season which saw the Oilers put out the Flames in five games, I have no idea what the NHL was thinking in only putting three regular season games on the docket for this upcoming year.
Alas, there are some important storylines to look for in those trio of matches.
Kadri vs. McDavid
Since Connor McDavid entered the league seven years ago, the Oilers have seen Kadri a few times both when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs and most recently, the Colorado Avalanche.
The sample size has been incredibly small over the last three years of just 14:58 of 5×5 time and we’ve seen McDavid outscore Kadri 1-0 when on the ice together. But when we look at expected goal share, McDavid and the Oilers have controlled just 38.06 of them. Between 2017-17 and 2018-19, we see a slightly larger sample size of 36:57 TOI. There, Kadri and the Leafs outscored McDavid and the Oilers 2-4 with Edmonton controlling just 32.89 percent of the expected goal share.
With two of three games taking place in Calgary, the Flames will have the ability to line match and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see them put Kadri against McDavid.
Kadri vs. Kane
The viciousness the BoA saw a few years ago likely isn’t going anywhere soon. While it used to be Zack Kassian vs. Matthew Tkachuk, but that could shift towards Kadri vs. Evander Kane. This one dates back to the Western Conference Finals when Kane buried Kadri into the boards, breaking the thumb of the latter.
This could all be a moot point given Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche winning the Cup, but in the same breath, Kadri’s a guy who has always played with an edge. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Kadri pulling Darnell Nurse’s helmet off back during a March 21st game that led to the Avs winning in overtime.
Sutter vs. Woodcroft
The coaching battle between the wiley veteran in Darryl Sutter and the young up-and-comer in Jay Woodcroft will be fascinating to watch. Calgary’s coaching staff seemingly refused to adjust in the playoffs last year and the Oilers took advantage of it. Woodcroft had a tremendous series of working lines and matchups and they staled the Flames’ game in games two through five.
The two teams are built differently, too. The Oilers seemingly want to bring as much offence as possible trying to win games 5-3, while the Flames are built more for 2-1, grinding types of games. It will be interesting to see how it plays out this year.
Markstrom vs. Campbell
The battle in the crease between Jacob Markstrom and Jack Campbell will be fascinating to watch, too. The Oilers have Markstrom’s number like no other. In the regular season over his career, Markstorm has posted a 15-13-2 record with a .901 save percentage and a 2.98 GAA. Last year with the Flames, those numbers got worse. In the regular season Markstrom went 2-2 posting a .884 save percentage and a 3.54 GAA. In the playoffs, it got even worse. Through the five games, Markstrom went 1-4 with a .852 save percentage.
Campbell, meanwhile, has been incredible against Calgary during his career. A 6-3 record in 10 games saw him post a .935 save percentage and a 2.07 GAA. Campbell’s been brought in to help stabilize the Oilers’ crease this year and I’m curious to see how it all shakes out this year.
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 email@example.com.
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