Sometimes calling a rivalry a ‘battle’ or ‘war’ goes a little too far. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, it doesn’t go far enough. The Battle of Alberta continues with Game 5 of the second round Stanley Cup playoff series in Calgary on Thursday. It’s been three decades since the clubs last met in the postseason, but that hasn’t cooled anything from the provincial neighbors situated roughly 190 miles apart. In fact, it only intensified this series and the animosity is prevalent all over the ice. Both teams survived in the first round winning a decisive Game 7 on home ice, and that could be what eventually decides this series. The Flames have the advantage by winning the Pacific Division, but they finished with just one more regular season victory.
The Stanley Cup playoff matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames takes place at 9:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 26, 2022, from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary and will air live on ESPN. BookMaker.eu will have odds for every game on the NHL Playoffs schedule.
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The Oilers have two of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they’ve been unable to build a Stanley Cup contender. Heck, they went a number of years not even making the postseason with those guys racking up points. And when they made the playoffs the last two seasons they tiptoed through the first round getting bounced with only win. So there was always the narrative that they couldn’t do it with just those two carrying the load. A veteran goalie solidified the position, an in-season coaching change proved to be a spark, but the biggest add may have been Evander Kane. Without a team in January, Kane was signed with some baggage, but he’s produced three multi-goal games in the playoffs, including a natural hat trick to propel the Oilers to a 4-1 victory in Game 3. Keeping the puck out of the net is critical since the club can score. They are 6-0 this postseason when holding opponents to three or fewer goals.
Calgary proved to be a more balanced team during the season scoring more goals than Edmonton while allowing the third-fewest in the entire NHL. Their plus-78 goal differential was second to only Florida. They surrendered just 14 goals in their seven-game first-round series with Dallas with the UNDER going 4-2-1, but the defense abandoned them in the first three games of this series. The Flames surrendered 15 goals with the OVER going 5-2 in the last seven games between the clubs. Getting back to the Saddledome could calm things. The Flames were 5-1 in their previous six home games with Edmonton prior to their 5-3 loss in Game 2.
The addition of Kane was boost for the offense. He tallied 22 goals and 39 points in 43 regular season games giving the club some complementary scoring to McDavid and Draisaitl. The two big guns accounted for over 30 percent of the team’s regular season point production. Kane leads the postseason with 10 goals while McDavid and Draisaitl are 1-2 in the points race with 23 and 19 respectively.
Mike Smith has been inconsistent in net but he’s been good more times than he’s been bad. He tossed a pair of shutouts in the first round, including the decisive Game 7, and rebounded from a brutal start to this series. Smith stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 3 and boasts a .933 save percentage in 10 games.
The Flames need Jakob Markstrom to keep the puck out of his net. We could be seeing the affects of a heavy workload taking its toll. He started 63 games during the season playing nearly 3,700 minutes and was solid with a .922 save percentage and 2.22 GAA. He played every minute of the first round series with a .943 save percentage, but the wheels have come off in this round.
More offense is needed and the Flames certainly have the firepower. They showed that in Game 1 scoring nine times, which was the second straight home ice victory over Edmonton coming up a goal short of double digits.
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Neither team is going to go quietly and I expect the Flames to regroup after they hear it from Darryl Sutter. Goalies have slumps and when you do against guys like McDavid and Draisaitl the numbers can escalate. Markstrom and the defense will return to form and Calgary will be inspired to get a victory back on home ice.
NHL Odds Prediction: Flames 5, Oilers 3
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