For any true hockey fan, every NHL game is a great one to tune into. In any given game there always seem to be wowing plays, whether it be a highlight-reel goal, a 10-bell save, or a massive body-check. Still, there is no arguing the fact that the best games to watch are when two rivals go head to head.
One of the best-known rivalries in the NHL is the “Battle of Alberta” between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, this rivalry was an intense as they came throughout the league, as both teams truly hated one another.
Unfortunately, these games seemed to really lose their spark in the late 2000s and into the early to mid-2010s, mainly due to the fact that neither team was very competitive during that time. However, the Flames were able to get back to being a playoff-caliber team in the mid-2010’s and the Oilers followed suit shortly after, which helped these games get back to being somewhat of a heated rivalry due to the fact that they mattered more.
Game That Reignited the Battle of Alberta
During the 2019-20 season, this rivalry got back to a place we as fans hadn’t seen it in a long time. What started it all off was a game between the two in January, one in which Matthew Tkachuk took several runs at Zack Kassian, something the Oilers forward was none too pleased about.
After several back-and-forths between numerous players on both sides towards the media, it felt like the true hate was back between these teams, and that was confirmed in a game that took place less than a month later. This game truly had it all, and was highlighted by a near line brawl that also included a goalie fight.
The Rivalry is Back and Better than Ever
This rivalry seemed to cool down again in 2020-21. The Flames struggling as a team certainly played a role in that, but the biggest factor was that there were no fans in the stands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, that won’t be the case this season.
If you are a Flames fan, you love Tkachuk and hate Kassian. If you are an Oilers fan, it is vice versa. Regardless of which side you root for, there is no denying the fact that these two have done a great job in helping reignite this great rivalry. Even more exciting is that both of these players are individuals who thrive off of the energy provided by crowds, meaning both should have bounce-back 2021-22 seasons. Both will be more engaged in games, meaning we could, and very well will, see that intensity they brought when playing each other during the 2019-20 season.
Even better is that both teams should be quite competitive in the Pacific Division this season. With two of the best players in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers will be a serious threat against any team they play. Meanwhile, the Flames are a better team on paper than they showed last season, and should also thrive thanks to being in a weaker division. While they aren’t as much of a shoe-in for a playoff spot as the Oilers, they will likely be in the hunt all season long, meaning these games will be of extreme importance to both teams.
Flames and Oilers Meet Early in the Season
The NHL knows how great of a rivalry this has become once again, and has wasted no time to get it underway as they are set to face-off against each other on Saturday night. It will be the first game of the season for the Flames, and the second for the Oilers, who defeated the Vancouver Canucks in their season opener on Wednesday.
From there, they play each other an additional three times on the season. The next up will come on Dec. 27, followed by a game on Jan. 22, and a final meet up on March 26. While that date in March is the final time they will meet up in the regular season, there is always the possibility of a playoff matchup. Though that is still quite some time away, that would intensify this rivalry even more. Regardless, this season could very well be the most passionate affair we have seen between these two teams in decades.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.