Say what you will about the NHL’s current playoff format, but the interdivisional 2-3 first-round matchups are perfectly built to inflict maximum emotional trauma (particularly if you’re a Maple Leaf) and foster ugly feelings between rivals (like the Sharks and the Golden Knights). And no two teams are better suited for that boiling pot of high-stakes hatred than the current 2 and 3 seeds in the Pacific Division, the Flames and the Oilers. So they better frickin’ meet come playoff time!
Regular season hockey gets a bad rep sometimes, but Wednesday night’s Battle of Alberta could have been, if not quite a legit Game 7, at least a Game 4 with the series 2-1. The Flames took it 4-3 in a shootout, but the 65 minutes leading up to that were a strap match where Edmonton refused to let Calgary ever get any breathing room, as the score oscillated between a Flames lead and a tie all night. When Oilers defenseman Matt Benning, in his return from two months on the shelf, showed some uncharacteristic individual brilliance in the offensive zone to score the tying goal in the third, it felt like the kind of unlikely hero-making moment you don’t usually see until April.
But this was not simply a close hockey game—it was a grouchy one, too. A couple of surprising boxers dropped the gloves late in the first, as Sean Monahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went at it with inspiring intensity and determination—there’s a point in their fight when they absolutely could stop and let the refs come in, but they don’t. And just seconds later, Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk punched out their personal animosity with a gentlemanly consensual scrap to get some closure from the last time these two met, which was also furious and thrilling. Here’s a violence-only highlight reel via Sportsnet, because Canadians know what they want:
More often than not, the Flames and the Oilers are wildly entertaining when they get on the ice together, but aside from the pure talent that would be on display in Edmonton’s dynamic duo and Calgary’s quartet of brilliant young forwards, this match-up has all the ingredients necessary for a competitive series that’ll leave an awful taste in one city’s mouth. There’s physical proximity, cultural differences, guys that legit don’t like each other, two fanbases desperate to recapture their ’80s glory days, and the fact that a postseason Battle of Alberta hasn’t happened since 1991. (That’s before Johnny Gaudreau was even born, let alone Connor McDavid.) These two teams square off twice more this season—including on Saturday, where the frustration will still be fresh— but if we’re lucky, there will be seven more battles after that.
Awesome's Razor says:
I never care more about hockey than when Dea– uh, Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog is blogging hockey to me.
January 31, 2020 — 12:12 pm
January 31, 2020 — 12:13 pm
Playoff hockey needs an angry Matthew Tkachuk
January 31, 2020 — 12:16 pm
+1 Steve Smith
January 31, 2020 — 12:17 pm
Also, love to see Lauren blogging hockey
January 31, 2020 — 12:17 pm
Spanfeller is a Herb says:
This and the Athletic are the only two sites on the internet that regularly acklowledge the NHL exists.
January 31, 2020 — 12:19 pm
It's Kduff says:
Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog has a long history of hockey coverage
January 31, 2020 — 1:36 pm
Going all the way back to day one
January 31, 2020 — 9:31 pm
Say what you will about the Tkachuks being a family of hockey players who maybe should all be stuffed into a large industrial trash compactor, they make for some delightfully compelling hockey storylines.
January 31, 2020 — 12:22 pm
Untamed Bemporary Torts Splog says:
Three Italian nuns die and go to heaven.
At the Pearly Gates, they are met by St. Peter. He says, “Sisters, you all
led such exemplary lives that the Lord is granting you six months to go back
to earth and be anyone you wish to be.”
The first nun says, “I want to be Sophia Loren.” And ‘poof’ she’s gone.
The second says, “I want to be Madonna and ‘poof’ she’s gone.
The third says, “I want to be Alberta Pipalini.”
St. Peter looks perplexed. “Who?”, he asks
“Alberta Pipalini,” replies the nun.
St. Peter shakes his head and says, “I’m sorry, but that name just doesn’t
ring a bell.”
The nun then takes a newspaper out of her habit and hands it to St. Peter.
St. Peter reads the paper and starts laughing. He hands it back to her and
says, “No sister, the paper says it was the ‘Alberta Pipeline’ that was laid by
1,400 men in 6 months.”
January 31, 2020 — 12:22 pm
+1 horny Nun.
January 31, 2020 — 12:23 pm
February 1, 2020 — 10:48 am
the flames followed through with more hits in that one game than the leafs have combined since 2016. 100% them coming from komorov who is no longer with the team.
January 31, 2020 — 12:22 pm
The Second Defenestrator of Prague says:
I fully endorse a Battle of Alberta, because it will eliminate at least one Canadian team from contention. As Americans we don’t have much to be proud of these days, but being able to troll Canadian hockey fans that no team from Canada has won the Stanley Cup since 1993, is one of the few accomplishments to which we can still cling.
January 31, 2020 — 12:24 pm
No Canadian teams, yet a majority of Canadians still helped you win it. Thanks for the money though. We’ll just go home and pump that into our own economy. lol
February 1, 2020 — 3:22 am
They play again tomorrow night and it’s gonna be nuts as well.
The story line for the second half of the game was the leg that Giordano left out to clip McDavid in the knee, which went uncalled, and got McDavid so mad he broke his stick not even over his knee but just with his hands on the bench.
Giordano is the same guy that injured McDavid’s knee in the last game of the season last year as well.
Glad you’re back Lauren!
January 31, 2020 — 12:28 pm
Didn’t think I could possibly enjoy the Deadspin reunion more and then Lo drops a friggin Battle of Alberta blog. We demand more!
January 31, 2020 — 12:29 pm
Seconded. This is awesome – the site, the content, the authors.
February 1, 2020 — 10:50 am
Do you think they’ll pack up the Oilers & Flames and move them to the Central when the Seattle Fog start play or do they go to 6 divisions??
January 31, 2020 — 12:37 pm
Coyotes are moving to the Central. Four divisions of 8.
January 31, 2020 — 4:07 pm
BUNCH A FUCKIN’ HOSERS!
January 31, 2020 — 1:43 pm
The Majestic Canadian Moose says:
A Blog. By Lauren. About hockey. Involving Canadian teams.
And here I thought I was living a life where there was no redemption.
January 31, 2020 — 1:51 pm
Good hockey trumps goonery any day of the week. At least this game was good, minus the thuggery.
I know there are those of you that want to fight about that, but I’ll pass.
January 31, 2020 — 1:58 pm
Is this where we’re supposed to meet up now?
January 31, 2020 — 2:12 pm
Hockey is still around? I have to stop getting my sports from ESPN as the only sports they are sticking to is he ones they profit from like the UFC and NFL. And welcome back the artist formally known a Deadspin, maybe the group can keep this going and make some money as you are all sorely missed.
January 31, 2020 — 2:24 pm
Erik Lonnrot says:
Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog coming out of the gate strong with a Lauren hockey post, about western teams no less!
Put this shit straight into my veins!
January 31, 2020 — 3:16 pm
Is it wrong that I love watching scumsuckers like Tkachuk get smacked around?
January 31, 2020 — 4:04 pm
Woohoo, Hockey coverage!
This is a great series and I can’t wait for Conor McDavid to finally get his chance to shine, and promptly bow out before the Conference Finals again. Greatest hockey player ever!
January 31, 2020 — 5:30 pm
Surprised you didn’t mention McDavid getting knee-whipped in the third.
Plus, THE OVERTIME WAS 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT WITHOUT A WHISTLE. So good.
January 31, 2020 — 5:51 pm
I’m gonna be a Pedantic Asswipe and say this could not have been a Game 7, nor a Game 4, nor any playoff game at all, on account of it ending in a shootout. Also, fuck this playoff system, divisional playoff series are awesome, and the absolute best when it’s the conference finals, and this stupid new seeding makes that literally impossible.
January 31, 2020 — 5:55 pm
nilesh patel says:
AS A VANCOUVER RESIDENT I HOPE THEY BOTH EAT FARTS
January 31, 2020 — 10:16 pm
high-sticking to sports says:
I miss this so much.
February 1, 2020 — 2:20 am
Living here and not a fan of either team I can tell you that people in Calgary hate Edmonton and vice versa. Finally both teams are ok again and the hockey hate is back. I truly hope they meet in the playoffs.
February 1, 2020 — 7:56 am
How does Ryan Nugent-Hopkins balance being a borderline NFL kicker and a NHL player?
February 1, 2020 — 9:13 am
Strap match? Did I just get a wrestling reference in my Theisen hockey blog? Is there…oh my God, there’s a wrestling post here too? This year already feels better than last. Long live the weekend of UTSBDC
February 1, 2020 — 10:13 am
This series in the 1986 got me into Ice Hockey.
February 1, 2020 — 4:05 pm
Since I’m given leave to say what I will about the current hockey playoff format, I’ll say that it sucks and is difficult to follow even as a person who follow hockey and even seeks out blogs about hockey like this one.
February 3, 2020 — 9:44 am
Heavy Metal Lawyer says:
That crowd is the most Canadian group of Hosers I’ve ever seen, eh?
February 5, 2020 — 10:43 am