It has been 31 years since the Edmonton Oilers have met the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That streak ends on Wednesday, when the Battle of Alberta begins at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.
FanDuel Sportsbook rates the Flames as the -164 favorites over the Oilers (+136) in Game 1, though oddsmakers expect a competitive series between the provincial rivals.
Players focused on winning, not Battle of Alberta narrative
Overall, FanDuel sees Calgary as the -194 pick to win the series, with Edmonton fetching +160 to advance.
Both teams took seven games to win their first-round series, and the teams split their four regular season matchups. They last faced off in the playoffs in 1991, when the Oilers beat the Flames in seven games. Edmonton has won four of the five postseason series between the two teams.
Players on both sides are entering the series expecting a fight.
“It’s a clean slate,” Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau said ahead of the series. “We could have beat them four times, they could have beat us four times, we’re both here and both starting 0-0 in the series.”
There’s no getting around the Battle of Alberta narrative in this matchup. Reporters have asked nearly every player and coach about it over the past few days. For most players, the rivalry is fun, but ultimately, they’re just playing another playoff series where winning is paramount.
“We have to find a way to win and it doesn’t really matter who we’re playing,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid told reporters. “It’s fun that there’s a Battle of Alberta and it’s Edmonton/Calgary, and hasn’t happened in a long time, and to be a part of the first one in a while is exciting. But ultimately, it’s a playoff series and we’ve got to go about our business.”
Flames, Oilers anticipating high-scoring series
Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter says he doesn’t like the Battle of Alberta moniker.
“You say Battle of Alberta, it’s not a Battle of Alberta,” Sutter told reporters. “They might cheer for the Flames, they might cheer for the Oilers, big deal. It’s sport, that’s what it’s about. It’s the best thing ever.”
Regardless of what you call it, you can expect to see plenty of scoring in this series. The Oilers and Flames both ranked among the top seven teams in the league in scoring this season. While Edmonton took Game 7 over the Kings by a tight 2-0 score, they also scored six or more goals twice in the series.
The Flames played a lower-scoring series against the Dallas Stars. However, they anticipate more goals being scored against the fast, talented Oilers.
“They have some world-class players, play with a lot of speed and they’re good off the rush, so we’ve got to be aware when people are on the ice and be ready to reload and stay above [the puck],” Calgary center Elias Lindholm said. “The key for us is to stay five-on-five and stay out of the box.”