When the Flames venture up the QE2 on Saturday to take on the Oilers, both teams will be sitting in Western Conference playoff spots. Which alone is shocking.
With both teams over halfway into their season, we’re heading for uncharted waters. The last time these teams played each other in a game that mattered at this point in the season? Well it’s been a long while.
This only includes games after a season was at least half over because it means both teams had a realistic playoff chance.
We have to take a trip back in time to the last two times Calgary and Edmonton met when both teams occupied a playoff spot. How far back? Not a year or two, not four years, not five, but try just under 8 years back to 2009.
February 21, 2009: Calgary Flames 3 at Edmonton Oilers 2 (SO)
Entering this game, the Flames were 33-15-8 which gave them 74 points and 3rd spot in the Western Conference. Meanwhile Edmonton was 29-25-4 and in 8th place.
The Flames would go on to win the game 3-2 in a shootout after Matthew Lombardi tied the game with 1:05 to go before Todd Bertuzzi won it in a shootout.
The only player left from that game who is still with the same team is Mark Giordano.
With the win, the Flames knocked Edmonton out of the final playoff spot in the conference, and they’d never make it back in that season, or any season until this year.
Now let’s go back further in time to an even more distant game
April 1, 2006: Calgary Flames 4 @ Edmonton Oilers 1
This was the last season in which both teams qualified for the playoffs. That’s right, over a decade.
Calgary entered the game sitting again 3rd in the Western Conference with 90 pts and at 41-24-8 while Edmonton was 8th again with 86 points at 37-25-12. This game had big playoff implications as Calgary, Colorado, Vancouver, and Edmonton were mired in a tight race for the Northwest Division crown.
The Flames would win the game 4-1 with big nights from Kristian Huselius, Daymond Langkow, and Andrew Ference. The game would be the third in an eventual string of ten straight games where the Flames had at least a point which helped them to win the Northwest Division.
The Oilers got the last laugh though by making the Stanley Cup Finals as the eighth seed.
Two important games in the last ten years and nine months isn’t exactly a strong way to maintain a decades long rivalry that stretched back into both clubs glory days in the 80’s.
Since the 2008-2009 season the Flames have had four head coaches, three general managers, two captains, and one playoff berth.
Edmonton meanwhile has had seven (!) head coaches, three general managers, four captains, and no playoff berths.
Again, not exactly the consistency two clubs need in order to build and maintain a rivalry.
However things have finally changed as both teams have solid management, strong coaches, and most importantly, skilled young players to give hope for the future.
Saturday night’s game is the first of hopefully many, many, many games between these two organizations in the next few decades that will have playoff implications and that’s a refreshing change of pace from the withering Battle of Alberta in the last decade or so.
Even if you absolutely despise the Oilers or the Flames, you have to admit, it’s nice to see both of these teams being competitive again. And it would be even better if they could knock out a couple of the California teams late in the season.
For another way to further ignite the Battle of Alberta, check out our other article talking about a Flames/Oilers Heritage Classic by clicking here