The NHL picks up with eleven games on Saturday night. One of these eleven games is the Battle of Alberta. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will both engage in their bitter rivalry for the first time this season. These two teams have found success early in the season and will look to continue to stay near the top of the divisional standings with a win on Saturday night.
The Oilers have started out the season with a record of 9-8-1. Edmonton is currently tied for fourth place in the Pacific Division with the Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers won their last game against the Montreal Canadiens, which was able to break a four-game losing streak. Edmonton will look to build up a bit of a winning streak with another win against the Flames on Saturday night.
Calgary has started out the season with a 10-8-1 record. The Flames are sitting right above the Oilers in the third seed of the Pacific Division. Calgary has lost two straight games and three of their last four. The Flames need to turn around this losing streak before they begin to fall in the standings.
This matchup will be the first between the Oilers and the Flames this season. These teams will meet three more times this season on December 9, January 19 and April 6. I expect these games to have a lot of emotion in them, which should help generate plenty of excitement.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Oilers and Flames met a total of five times last season. Edmonton hosted the first game between these two teams. Connor McDavid had three goals and Cam Talbot posted a 27 shot shutout. Mike Smith had 42 saves, but the Flames could not get on the board to help him out. The Oilers finished with a 3-0 win.
Calgary hosted the second matchup of the season between these two teams. Sam Bennett scored twice, while Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist, but it was not enough for the Flames. Milan Lucic had a goal and two assists, while Jesse Puljujarvi had a two-goal night. Edmonton took the high scoring affair 7-5.
The third game of the season series shifted back to Edmonton. Matthew Tkachuk had two goals for Calgary. Brandon Davidson had two goals for the Oilers. The game needed extra time to be decided. Connor McDavid scored the game winning goal in the shootout to give Edmonton a 4-3 win.
The Flames hosted the fourth matchup of the season. Johnny Gaudreau scored the only goal of the game in the second period. Cam Talbot had 31 saves in the loss for Edmonton. Mike Smith had a 28 shot shutout to help lead Calgary to a 1-0 win.
The final game of the season was held in Calgary. The Flames exploded in the first period for three goals on seven shots. Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist. Edmonton had a goal in the second period to make it a one goal game, but the Flames were able to hold off the Oilers push. Mike Smith had 34 saves on 36 shots.
The Oilers ended up taking the season series 3-2 after taking the first three games. Neither of these teams were able to make the playoffs, but still had really competitive games. I expect these two teams to play even more exciting games.
The Oilers have not been great on special teams this season. Edmonton’s power play has been scoring at a rate of 19 percent. The Oilers penalty kill has been stopping their opponent’s 74 percent of the time. Edmonton is slightly below average on the power play, but their penalty kill is closer to the bottom of the league.
Calgary has also not been struggled at times on special teams. The Flames have scored on 18 percent of their power play opportunities. Calgary has stopped 77 percent of the opposite’s team power play chances. The Flames are below average on both the power play and the penalty kill.
I believe that stat wise the Flames special teams overall has been better, but Edmonton has Connor McDavid. McDavid has the ability to dominate on both the power play and penalty kill. The special teams battle in this game could be a real pivotal thing to watch in this game.
Mikko Koskinen will likely get the start in net on Saturday night. Koskinen has gone 4-1 in his starts. He has a save percentage of .918 and a 2.52 GAA. Koskinen will likely begin to see more time if he continues to post stat lines like that. Koskinen will look to continue his solid play with a tough win on the road on Saturday night.
I believe the Flames will start David Rittich against the Oilers. Rittich has a .935 save percentage and a GAA of 1.91 on the season. He has posted a 5-1 record. I believe that like Koskinen, Rittich will get more time in net if he keeps up these numbers.
These two teams will open up a new chapter in the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night. I believe that both of these teams will try and come out with a fast pace to get an early lead. With Connor McDavid, I believe the Oilers have a better chance to control the pace right off the bat. The Oilers are on the road, but they could still pull off the upset.
BetOnline has the Flames listed at a money line of -135, which implies they win this game 57 percent of the time. Calgary has been on a losing streak, which makes me believe that this game should be closer to even. The Oilers are coming off an impressive win against the Canadiens. I believe they carry some of that momentum into Saturday night. I am taking the road underdog in this matchup.