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Friday, January 20, 2017

The Battle of Alberta Part 3

The rivalry calmed down in the 1990’s, as both franchises faced financial hardships due to being among the smallest markets in the league. Many feared the demise of nearly all Canadian teams. Both the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets were relocated in American cities in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

It wasn’t until well over a decade later that the Oilers or Flames exhibited anything near the intensity they had in the 80’s and early 90’s. In 2004, the Flames made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but were defeated in seven games by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 2006 (there was no Stanley Cup game in 2005 due to the lockout), the Oilers made it to the Finals only to fall to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. They have not returned to the playoffs since. Up until 2009, the Flames made the playoffs every year, but then went five seasons without an appearance until their return in 2015.

This season, the rivalry is picking up right where it left off. On Saturday, January 14th, the Oilers defeated the Flames 2-1 thanks to shootout goals from Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu. This put the Oilers (23-15-7) four points ahead of the Flames (23-20-3) in the Pacific Division. With the win, the Oilers are now second in the division. The Flames are in fourth place and are the first wild card for the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"The fans were louder tonight than they've been in a long time, so that always helps," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said of Saturday’s game. "And there was little bit of nastiness but at the end of the day, there wasn't a whole lot of that going on either way." McDavid can be credited for much of the Oilers recent success. He is currently leading the league in scoring with 50 points with 45 games, 14 goals and 36 assists. In October 2016, he was named Captain of the Oilers, making him the youngest Captain in NHL history. He has also been named Captain of the Pacific Division for the All-Star Game later this month.

Connor McDavid 07042015
By Connor Mah (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

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