Which Team is Better, the Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames?

Two teams from the same Canadian province. A storied rivalry, both with passionate fanbases, and past championship glory. Both cities are hockey-mad, hungry for a winner and faithful to the end. Both teams have seen little success over the last few seasons, and while they both appear to be in a re-build, it feels like they’re moving in different directions.

(Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports)
(Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports)

The Oilers Have the High Picks

For the Edmonton Oilers, years of futility landed them with three consecutive first overall picks. But at times that good fortune has felt like a curse rather than a blessing. With high picks come high expectations, that which the Oilers have failed miserably to live up to. They come with questions such as, when are the Oilers going to be good? How can they possibly be this bad? Are they overrated? When can we start labeling these players draft busts?

But before we start writing them off, a few things need to be considered. The management of this team has been baffling as it is frustrating. The personal decisions, trades and signings have garnered more criticism than results. After all, a goalie tandem of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth is expected to compensate for the porous defensive play. Leon Draisaitl’s development has been pushed up because there’s no one else to play center. In other words, the expectations heaped on this team are unfair to a point. There is no timetable on development, no matter how high a draft position. There are also no guarantees in this sport, as hope often exceeds reality.

But why is that the Oilers seem to take all the heat while the Flames are lauded as a great young team on the rise? Do the draft picks really alter our perceptions that much? Is it because the Oilers have been re-building for longer? Did the Flames do a better job of tearing things down and starting over?

Can the Flames Sustain their Recent Success?

One thing is for sure, that unlike the Oilers, the Calgary Flames aren’t expected to be good yet. They were expected to struggle. They aren’t far enough along in the development process to be considered actual playoff contenders. Maybe the fans are getting anxious, but the rest of hockey world certainly seems to have a special amount of patience for this group. The Flames are becoming that team that you can’t help for root for, while the Oilers are seen more as disappointments and sources of frustration.

Maybe the Flames don’t have all the perceived young studs that the Oilers supposedly have. Maybe Calgary’s young players don’t have as much potential, therefore need more time to grow. Maybe they will always be a blue-collar team, lacking all the flashy skill that we are expecting out of Edmonton. But these Flames are as hardworking as they are underrated. Sean Monahan looks like a beast. Johnny Gaudreau is loaded with skill. TJ Brodie and Lance Bouma have been unexpected surprises. Captain Mark Giordano looks like a Norris candidate.

The Flames have started the season 11-6-2, good for fifth place in the Western Conference. 19 games in the season, not many would have expected to see them there. Calgary’s schedule is getting tougher, and thus no one is expecting them to sustain these results. The funny thing is that it seems to be acceptable. They almost feel like last year’s Colorado Avalanche, ahead of their time, not expected to really continue all the winning, but let’s enjoy the ride.

(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
(Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Which Team would you Rather Cheer for?

Other than residing in Alberta, and starving for playoff hockey, these two teams could not be more different. The Flames goalie tandem of Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo seem to head and shoulders above the Oilers netminders. Bob Hartley seems to be getting more out of his group than Dallas Eakins has. The question is, which young group would you rather have? Do you love the idea of having Monahan, Gaudreau, Sven Baertschi, Giordano, Brodie, Sam Bennett, and Mikael Backlund as your core? Or do you prefer the group of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse? Is it too soon to compare? Should we wait a few more years before determining which players are truly better?

But at this point in time, a fan, which team would you rather cheer for? Which team appears to have more promise? Or the biggest question, who will make the playoffs first?

10 thoughts on “Which Team is Better, the Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames?”

  1. Flames went against the Big Boys/Ducks last night and was able to get a win. Are they the real thing, maybe too early to tell, but I know I fans enjoy watching them.

  2. Calgary has 26 points Edmonton has 14 at the 1/4 season mark. Is this really a question? Does Edmonton really think that their “star” players are going to want to play for a loser team for the rest of their careers?

  3. I think the difference maker is how much better the flames are on the back end , if the oilers had the D and good goalie they could be dangerous.

  4. The title of this article is misleading to say the least. If you want to say who is better historically then the oilers are the obvious choice. However, the stats clearly show the flames to be the better team currently. Yes, the team is headed to have some tougher competition, but the teams have faced relatively the same schedule as the oilers and the stats don’t lie. Edmonton has some fundamental issues that it needs to deal with before the team will truly succeed again. The flames still have a long way to go, but sure are showing what some heart and good coaching will accomplish.

  5. As a Calgary Flames fan, obviously I will opt for the Flames; but as an Albertan at heart, the Edmonton Oilers are my second best team who seem to be missing missing precious players like Sam Gagner and Ryan Smith. In response to the question above, I would always pick the Calgary Flames (whether they win or lose) over the Edmonton Oilers.

  6. As a long time Oiler fan I have to say that your assessment of the Oilers and Flames is right on. The Oilers are an embarrassment from the owner on down. When I mention to friends that I would rather cheer for and watch the Flames I get a lot of grief from. I have mentioned at various times since and agreed with the assessment at the time it happened that Lowe as Burke mentioned was “running this franchise into the ground”. This fish stinks from the head ( owner) down and they don’t seem to want to believe the situation we are in or know how to fix it.The core players on the Oilers are all soft except Hall and he is injury prone and not suited to a power forward role. The coach seems unwilling or unable to challenge the players to compete harder and there is no reinforcement of the behaviours needed either in practices or as a result of poor game play by sitting the culprits.

    Lowe and McTavish have no experience or knowledge of how to build a successful franchise and so having a template for drafting , development, creating a winning culture in the modern NHL are all missing. Until the owner addresses this we will continue to fail.

  7. It really seems that Flames management has done a great job of using the draft over the years to find speed and good hard working attitude. The right coach getting the maximum out of the players. I like watching this team play, even when the lose they are exciting.

    It is weird to say but I think Edmonton has been cursed by having too many 1st picks. Too much pressure to take the best player instead of addressing their actual needs.

    Also,. As a Flames fan, I hope they keep their coach, GM and president for a long time. 20 year rebuild in Edmonton would be great! :-P

  8. Flames have been better so far, but the main point is that the flames have shown they can exceed their expectations and work with the system they have in place. The Oilers on the other hand don’t have any system in place that the players can stick to. They also need some new defenders and possibly a new coach before they can seriously turn things around.

    Overall I like the workhorse attitude the flames are building which is why I would say they are the better team. They already have the right mindset within the locker room and the right guys in management, unlike the Oilers which are mired by high expectations, too much politics in managements and young talent that is getting to use to losing.

  9. I would rather have the Oilers studs with Bob Hartley as a coach. I would also rather see Bozo the Clown holding down Craig “I’m Not Good Enough Be Your Coach But I Can Be Your GM” MacTavish or Kevin “Lord of the Rings” Lowe’s offices.

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