For the first time in 31 years, Edmonton will host a Battle of Alberta playoff game.
1. There’s been a common theme through the first two games between Edmonton and Calgary. The Flames start off hot and then take their foot off the gas as the game goes along and they feel comfortable while the Oilers start off slowly and have managed to dig themselves out of early holes.
That was the case in Game 1 as the Flames had a 3-0 lead six minutes into the game and a 5-1 lead in the second period evaporate into a 6-6 tie. In Game 2, the Oilers managed to completely pull off a comeback, as they went down 3-1 and scored four unanswered to pick up a 5-3 win.
With the series in Edmonton and the crowd pulling in the Oilers’ favour, it’ll be interesting to see if the roles reverse and the Oilers are the ones to finally come out strong.
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2. Edmonton’s win in Game 2 in Calgary was huge. It was the first time all year that the road team had won a Battle of Alberta game, as the Flames had won Game 1 and both the Oilers and Flames won their two respective home games during the regular season. It also means that the Oilers now have home-ice advantage in what’s now essentially a five-game series.
Historically, teams that go up 2-0 in a seven-game series go on to win that series 86.7 percent of the time. Teams that win Game 1 and then drop Game 1 historically win that series 47.8 percent of the time. That’s nearly a 40 percent change in odds between the two scenarios.
The team that wins Game 3 and goes up 2-1 in a series wins that series 69.5 percent of the time, so winning Sunday’s game in Edmonton would be nice for the Oilers.
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3. One of the biggest surprises of the series is how leaky Jacob Markstrom has looked in net for Calgary. He posted a .922 save percentage and led the league with nine shutouts this season and is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. He had a .943 save percentage in the Flames’ first-round series with the Dallas Stars and he came into this series with a .925 save percentage across 21 games all-time in the playoffs.
In Games 1 and 2 against the Oilers, Markstrom allowed 11 goals on 68 shots, an .838 save percentage.
4. Much like he did in Edmonton’s first-round series with the L.A. Kings, Mike Smith bounced back after a difficult showing in Game 1. Smith had a late-game flub that cost the Oilers Game 1 against L.A. and then he posted a .947 save percentage the rest of the series. Smith was lit up for three goals on 10 shots and got pulled after six minutes in Game 1 against the Flames, and then he came back in Game 2 and stopped 37 of 40 shots.
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It seems Smith plays his best hockey when he gets embarrassed and then comes back the following game with something to prove.
5. It’ll be interesting to see if Jay Woodcroft and Co. opt to inject some youth into this series. Dylan Holloway has never played an NHL game would give the Oilers some added size, speed, and skill in their top-nine. Josh Archibald and Zack Kassian played under five minutes in Game 2. Another option is going with 11 forwards and seven defenders and dressing Philip Broberg, who knows Woodcroft and Dave Manson’s defensive systems well from his time with the Bakersfield Condors.
It’s a big ask for either player to be thrown into the series. I would rather insert them into the lineup in Edmonton than on the road. While the pressure is high, the adrenaline would be even higher.
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6. If the Oilers do manage to go on a deep run, we could seriously see Connor McDavid put together one of the best playoff performances of all time.
McDavid has 20 points in nine games in the playoffs so far. For context, Chris Pronger led the 2006 Oilers with 21 points in 24 games. He already has more points than Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane had in their Conn Smythe winning playoff runs in 2016 and 2013 respectively.
The all-time record for points in a single playoff was when Wayne Gretzky scored 47 points in 1985. Gretzky hit the 40-point plateau in the playoffs three times in his career while Mario Lemieux did so once in 1991. The closest to 40 in recent memory was when Evgeni Malkin scored 36 points when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009.
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All 24 can packs of Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Molson Canadian Beer will be on sale for $35.99 plus tax and deposit on Edmonton vs Calgary game days during this round of playoffs!