When history reflects on the greatest rivalries in all of sports, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta ranks near the top of the list.
Steve Smith putting one in his own net, ending the Edmonton Oilers‘ season in 1986. Matthew Tkachuk manhandling Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian and turtling before answering the bell against Kassian in the next game.
Craig MacTavish ripping out Harvey the Hound’s tongue. Mike Smith punching Cam Talbot in the face after a line brawl broke out on Calgary’s end. Esa Tikkanen sniping a series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 7 the last time these teams met in the playoffs. Sean Monahan having enough of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins nonsense and shedding the mitts at center ice.
All reference points that earmark a hockey fan’s experience for this in-province duel, most of which involve sorting things out the old-fashioned way.
Just a brief look into what to expect when these teams meet in the postseason for the first time since 1991.
Recent outcomes illustrate how close this series has been. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Flames hold a modest advantage, going 21-16-3; however, those results have been split more evenly over the past couple of seasons. The Pacific Division rivals each had two wins in the four games this season, with Edmonton going 6-4-0 last year in the re-formed North Division.
Although the regular season offers a glimpse of what to expect when these teams step on the ice, the playoffs have an entirely different dynamic that contemporary historians have yet to experience.
The Flames and Oilers have met in a best-of-seven series five times throughout their existence, with the Oilers claiming victory in four of those meetings. However, it’s worth noting how close these matchups have been, with three of the last four series going to full seven games. A similar experience should be expected in Round 2, as both teams look to shake their playoff reputations and become the last Canadian team standing.
The stakes have never been higher. The Stanley Cup Playoffs bring out an incomparable level of excitement that will be amplified by the ferocity of these hated rivals.
A new generation of hockey fans will be introduced to the intensity of this competition, adding to the lore of the Battle of Alberta.