After a spirited first time meeting back on February 6th, the much anticipated Battle of Alberta was supposed to heat up in a huge back-to-back home and home battle this weekend. As a Flames fan first, I’m trying really hard to write this without using any cuss words. Let’s recap!
Game One in Calgary
Game number one in the Battle of Alberta was going to be great. After all, the Calgary Flames beat the Edmonton Oilers in the first installment back on February 6th and, Flames Coach Geoff Ward had music playing at practice on Thursday. The last time Ward had music blaring at practice was back when he first took over the team and wanted to lighten the mood after the Bill Peters mess. This time, he needed to lighten the mood after his team had lost two of the last three games to the Vancouver Canucks.
You would think the Flames were doomed from the start, having Sean Monahan out with a “lower body injury”. But let’s be real, Monahan hasn’t been really effective all season, which leads me to wonder if this injury has been around for a while and he has been playing through it. The Flames did not come out strong and were for the most part, emotionless. Matthew Tkachuk was not being the pain in the ass he usually is, but did try some nifty moves to try to get his team on the board. Tkachuk tried his patented (not really patented) through the legs shot not once, but twice. Both were unsuccessful.
Goaltending: Battle of Alberta Style
David Rittich got the start in net for the Flames, which had Flames fans in an uproar on Twitter.
David Rittich is starting and Geoff Ward is still the head coach?— Jacques Sampson (@jacques_sampson) February 19, 2021
Hahah ohhh man, the #Oilers are about to pump the #Flames tonight…
(Yes I realize Rittich was slated to get one of these two games anyway, but still, this ain’t gonna be pretty 😬)
But, Big Save Dave played a pretty solid game, stopping 23 of 25 shots he faced. The only two goals he allowed were a shot from the slot by a wide open Jesse Puljujarvi, and a garbage goal from a puck that bounced off a stick or two, maybe a leg also, and was deposited into the net by Oilers forward Gaetan Haas. Of the 21 shots Oilers goaltender Mike Smith faced, the only one he let in was a laser beam from Flames D-man Rasmus Andersson.
Game One Result
The Calgary Flames dropped their second game in a row and third in their last four by a score of 2-1. The Oilers held on for the win despite Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl not hitting the score sheet at all, a feat that has now only happened twice in the last three years.
Game Two in Edmonton
Game number two in the Battle of Alberta was going to be much more intense. The Flames would be hungry for revenge. That’s what I was telling myself as I reeled from the loss the night before. Turns out, I was right. The Flames came out fast and firing on all cylinders. But unfortunately, so did Connor McDavid, and backstopped by amazing goaltending by Mikko Koskinen, the Edmonton Oilers laid a sound thrashing on the Calgary Flames. Let’s recap shall we.
As I said, the Flames came out of the gate with a purpose, laying the body on guys, shooting the puck from every direction, being quick on pucks, giving it 110%… sorry… got carried away with my token hockey phrases. Flames forward Sam Bennett took Oilers D-man Slater Koekkoek out of the game with a hard shoulder to shoulder hit before the ice even had time to dry. Bennett also took on Oilers giant Jujhar Khaira in a scrap in which Bennett got a good solid punch or two in, but took some hard shots from Khaira and, in my opinion, lost the scrap.
What a First Half!
Alex Chiasson opened the scoring for the Oilers, followed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to stake them to a 2-0 lead. But, Andrew Mangiapane scored to draw the Flames to within one. Then it was the Connor McDavid show. McJesus scored three straight goals, a natural hat-trick, to put the Oilers up by a score of 5-1 and they would not look back. The Flames recorded 28 shots on goal, only beating Koskinen on one. What an insane amount of action. That was only up to the mid-point of the second period.
Yup, all that in only half a game. As a Flames fan first, I really want to turn the game off and just go to bed as these late game starts are really starting to wear on me at my age. But, I ain’t no quitter! I suffered through two more Oilers goals, Nuge’s second of the game, and Josh Archibald tickling the twine for some insurance against a miracle six goal Flames comeback.
Game Two Result
Despite losing the game, Calgary dominated the shot tally 44-24 and won the faceoff matchup 39-28. Unfortunately, the Oilers dominated more entry drafts, having two former first overall picks scoring five goals Saturday night and pulling away with a 7-1 victory.
The Calgary Flames have now lost three games in a row. The Edmonton Oilers are now 9-2 in their last 11 games after starting the season with a record of 3-6. Oh hey, look, the Vegas Golden Knights lost too. I can’t believe I stayed up for this.
I’m Jason Beisick and I’ll be covering the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers for the Belly Up Hockey team. You can follow me on Twitter as well for general sports talk and likely some trash talk as well.