What a beautiful rare beast this is. The Battle of Alberta was not particularly close last night, as the Oilers won 8-3 to take their first game (of four so far) off the Flames this season. But it surpassed the other three in terms of sheer chaotic unforgettability thanks to a scrap between a pair of goalies with history on both sides of the rivalry.
What I’m trying to say is: GOALIE FIIIIIIGHT!!!!
For those less initiated with the various roster changes over the past few years of the Pacific Division, that’s Mike Smith and Cam Talbot going at each other, and it’s especially sick because they each played on opposite teams last year. Smith, of the Oilers, spent the past two seasons in Calgary, and Talbot had played for Edmonton from 2015 until almost exactly a year ago, when he left in a midseason trade to the Flyers then found his way back to Alberta via free agency.
And in a regular-season game, they’re just frickin’ going at it. The reason why is almost unimportant — in what was at the moment a three-goal game just a few days after an intense affair in Edmonton, some fighting was inevitable. But after Sam Gagner tried to poke a puck underneath Talbot, he gave everyone a pretense for violence. The Flames ganged up on Gagner three-to-one, with Talbot as one of the three, and the main event seemingly became Ethan Bear vs. Matthew Tkachuk. But as Smith moved to center ice, Talbot skated to meet him, and everyone’s mind was blown.
Smith was the clear winner, as Talbot seemed to struggle with the puffiness of his equipment when he tried to throw punches, but both provided even more reasons why we need to see this match-up in the playoffs. Maybe it’s just growing up with Red Wings-Avs, but goalie fights are always a damn special affair. They combine just the right amounts of weirdness, star power, action, and drama. (Since everyone always remembers a goalie fight, it’s that much more important to make a statement.) I’ll stop short of saying they need to happen more often, but this was a cool treat in a big game for Edmonton.
“Old time hockey,” Sam Gagner said afterwards. “Those are the fun ones, obviously.”