NHL / oilers
When the Battle of Alberta Matters
Gaudreau/Monahan v McDavid/Draisaitl. Source It has been a long time since both the Flames and the Oilers had competitive hockey teams. Each team had a strong playoff run about a decade ago but since then there hasn't been a ton to cheer about in Alberta. Both teams have found themselves a superstar and are emerging as playoff teams. I've dreamed for many years of seeing a playoff series between the two clubs and it finally feels like thats something that could actually happen. Right now the Flames are in a dominant stretch of hockey. The club finds themselves as the top team in the west, having surged past teams like Winnipeg, Nashville, San Jose and Las Vegas. Johnny Gaudreau leads the way for Calgary, currently second in the league in scoring, and has been accompanied by amazing scoring depth and strong defensive play. David Rittich is emerging as a rock solid starter and Mark Giordano is reestablishing himself as one of the best defensemen in the league. Things aren't quite as sunny in Edmonton. The season has been a bit of a roller coaster, with the team going on some very big winning and losing streaks this season. All said the Oilers are tied for the final playoff spot in the west, in a huge dog fight to see who can sneak their way into the playoffs. Connor McDavid is the best hockey player in the world and has been doing everything in his power to drag this club into the postseason. If McDavid can get a little bit of help from his supporting cast then the Oilers will have a very good shot at making the playoffs. All this combined leads to even more emotion and meaning to the Battle of Alberta. Possibly the best rivalry in the NHL, even with the two teams having been through some struggles, things are feeling even more amplified between the two clubs as every point matters immensely this season and anything you can do to take out your rival must be done. Saturday night marks the next game between these two clubs and I expect some major fireworks. Calgary has a chance to give the Edmonton the boot to be on the outside of the playoff picture, while a win for Edmonton leap frogs them into one of the final wildcard spots. I expect Rogers Arena to be electric on Saturday and I will be there in attendance cheering on the hometown Oilers. It feels like the two teams have been going in different directions lately but all trends and ranks go out the window when Calgary and Edmonton face off. It's one of those games that always manages to elevate to levels above where both teams usually sit. There is already a bit of extra bad blood between the two clubs this season and I expect that to boil over Saturday night. I can't wait for the puck to finally drop.