Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Battle of Alberta Part 2

The Oilers came to the NHL during the merge in 1979. In 1980, the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary. This is when the real rivalry started, as the battle to be the top team in Alberta began. The Flames finished with 39 wins and 92 points, making it to the Stanley Cup semifinals in their first season in the NHL. The next year, Wayne Gretzky began to break NHL records and the Oilers climbed to the top of the Smythe Division (the forerunner of the NHL’s Northwest and Pacific Divisions).
Wayne Gretzky statue 6
By 117Avenue (Own work)
[CC BY 3.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

During the mid to late 1980’s, the rivalry escalated as the Oilers and Flames became the best two teams in the Campbell Conference (now known as the Western Conference). For eight consecutive years, from 1983 to 1990, one of the two teams represented their conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990. The Flames won in 1989.

In 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991, the Oilers conquered the Flames in the playoffs, winning two of their five Stanley Cups. In game seven of the 1986 playoffs, the Oilers rookie defensemen Steve Smith unwittingly scored on his own goal (credited to Perry Berezan of the Flames). This mishap only further intensified the rivalry between the two teams. The Flames were favored to win the playoffs in 1988, after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. However, the Oilers defeated the odds to win the series and then went on to win the Cup. The last time that the teams met for the playoffs was 1991. Esa Tikkanen scored the winning goal in overtime.

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