Edmonton Oilers

The best and craziest Battle of Alberta games since 2010

The Heritage Classic is this Sunday. The Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames will face off at Commonwealth Stadium, marking the 20th anniversary of the first ever outdoor game. There’s been a ton of hype for the game ever since it was announced. Even with the announcements of the Rasmus Andersson suspension and the Connor McDavid injury, fans are stoked to see the two provincial rivals square off.

In honour of this event, I’ve went back and looked at some of the best games between the two teams since the 2010–11 season.

Eberle’s beautiful goal

The 2010–11 Oilers were a very young team. Newly drafted Taylor Hall made his NHL debut, along with Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle. The team was expected to be pretty poor during the season, but that didn’t stop a rocking Rexall Place to show up and see what the future could potentially hold for these young Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers had a 1–0 lead thanks to a goal by Gilbert Brule. While shorthanded, Jim Vandermeer found Eberle streaking on a two-on-one with captain Shawn Horcoff. Well, we all know what happened next.

Eberle would then score another goal on the power play as the Oilers would defeat the Flames in a shutout. A 4–0 win to start the season. Paajarvi would later score his first NHL goal a week later against the Flames at the Saddledome.

McDavid’s first Battle of Alberta

Connor McDavid made his Battle of Alberta debut on October 17, 2015. The struggling Oilers came into Calgary winless in their first four games, only scoring six goals. With the pressure from the fans and media to win, the Oilers did just that.

The Oilers got goals from all four of their first-round picks: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, and 18-year-old Connor McDavid. McDavid’s first goal came on a beautiful rush as he wrists a shot past Jonas Hiller. Later in the game, Hall sets him up beautifully on the power play to put the game out of reach.

Not only did the Oilers and McDavid win their first game of the season, they absolutely dummied Calgary in the process. Things didn’t go smoothly for the rest of the season however, as Calgary would take three out of the next four that year, including the final Battle of Alberta at Rexall Place with a 5–0 win. They also beat the Oilers a week or so after this game, where they won off a weak shot with seconds remaining in regulation. But… we don’t talk about those.

Rogers Place home opener

The first ever regular season game at Rogers Place saw the Oilers and the Flames meet up. A few days prior to this, Kris Versteeg declined a contract from Peter Chiarelli and went down south to the enemy. Nail Yakupov was shipped out, Kris Russell was signed to a deal, and McDavid was named captain. Further, the day of the game, Johnny Gaudreau who was a RFA still signed a six-year contract. With the hype of the new arena, the moves both of the Flames and Oilers made that offseason, which included signings of Milan Lucic, Troy Brouwer, and the trade for Brian Elliott, fans were excited to see what the night would behold.

The Oilers beat the Flames 7–4 in their new barn. Patrick Maroon tipped home a Leon Draisaitl shot around two minutes in. Connor McDavid, wearing the C, scored two goals, one of which came on a beautiful penalty shot. Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first NHL goal that night. It was a fun and entertaining game to set the tone for the rest of the season. The Oilers would end up sweeping the Flames in the season series that year including a 7–3 win in Calgary in January 2017.

McDavid hat trick

Oh man, probably the best game of the 2017–18 season for the Oilers. A team that just came off a hardfought series against the Anaheim Ducks in the second round. Expectations were sky high and people picked the Oilers to win the cup (kinda like this year huh….). The Oilers opened the season with a bang.

McDavid picked up right where he ended the previous season and he got his first 100-point season. He scored a hat trick on Mike Smith and the Oilers shutout the Flames 3–0. Everyone in town was ecstatic and thought the rest of the season will be a blast to watch. Unfortunately, the Oilers lost their next four games and struggled to gain any momentum. A great season opener for a very disappointing year.

Kassian versus Tkachuk V1

The first saga in the spirited Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk rivalry. This game was chippy straight from the get go. Sam Bennett rocked Darnell Nurse, and Leon Draisaitl retaliated by demolishing Matt Tkachuk.

After Alex Chiasson opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal, near the end of the period Tkachuk and Kassian started getting into it. Both drop the gloves but instead of fighting, Tkachuk showed off his turtle side for the first time. You can see this at the 3:25 mark of the next video.

Anyways, thanks to all the physicality, Coach Todd McLellan decided to staple Lucic next to 97 for the entire game, which ended up costing them. McLellan would coach his final game the night after.

Fun fact: This was also Ryan Spooner’s first game as an Oiler and Patrick Russell made his NHL debut. The final Battle of Alberta game that season saw McDavid crash into the goal posts. You know what… let’s just forget these games and this season ever happened, okay?

The Tkachuk-Kassian rivalry V2

The stretch of games that reignited the Battle of Alberta. On January 11, 2020, the Oilers were hot entering Calgary. Both teams were eyeing the first place seed in the Pacific. At the 8:08 mark of the first period, Tkachuk landed a questionable hit on Kassian, as you can see at 1:11 in the video.

After 38 minutes of high-flying fast-paced action, Tkachuk once again charged at Kassian, but this time, Kassian fought back. Like he did a year ago, Tkachuk went into his shell. Calgary would end up getting a power play and winning the game. Kassian would also be suspended for his actions. His first game back would be against…Calgary.

Round two saw the Flames jump out to an early lead but then sparks got ignited. A rare RNH fight occurred and pretty much kicked Sean Monahan’s butt. Kassian would also finally get his revenge and fight Tkachuk. The game ended in a shootout where the Oilers hit both posts, and for some reason, Dave Rittich thought it was good idea to do a stick flip and stare down the Oilers bench. That wasn’t a good idea since the two teams played again three days later.

In what was easily the best game of the entire NHL season, Calgary and Edmonton put on a show. The Oilers got off to an early 2–0 lead one minute in thanks to Kailer Yamamoto and Kassian. Buddy Robinson would get one back and then McDavid would later capitalize. At the end of the first period, Robinson and Jujhar Khaira got into a heated scrap, which would set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Flames would respond with two quick goals but the captain, who would force Rittich out of the game, and RNH would score two shortly after. Near the end of the second, Sam Gagner dove for a loose puck, which upset former Oiler netminder Cam Talbot. Mark Giordano jumped on Gagner and whole scrum ensued. Ethan Bear and Tkachuk were off to the side having a bout when suddenly, Mike Smith and Cam Talbot, two guys who played on both sides of this battle, had a goalie fight.

It was truly chaotic on this Saturday night. Rittich would be forced back into the game while Mikko Koskinen had to go in net for the orange and blue. The Oilers would add three more goals thanks to Caleb Jones, Sam Gagner, and Gaetan Haas.

The Flames kill Edmonton 9–5

Ironically, not the only time this season the Flames put up nine against the blue and orange. In their fifth game since the trade deadline, the boys were loaded and ready to go, as they went out and acquired Derick Brassard and Brett Kulak. However, they got absolutely demolished by Calgary.

It was an embarrassing effort. Draisaitl scored a hat-trick midway through the second period to make it 6–5 and that still wasn’t enough for Edmonton to come back. If you want to see the analytics after that game, well here you go.

Everybody was net negative defensively and couldn’t generate anything 5v5. They were lucky the power play was lethal that night but once again, it still wasn’t enough. Thankfully, months later, we got revenge.

The 2022 playoff series

I mean, you knew this would be on here. The Battle of Alberta playoff series was electric. After losing Game 1 by a score of 9–6, in which the Oilers actually came back from a 6–2 deficit, they dummied the Flames in the next four games of that series.

In Game 2, the Oilers came back from a 3–1 deficit and won off a Zach Hyman shorthanded goal. I was in the crowd for Game 3, and it was probably the one of best games I’ve ever witnessed—the others being the Game 7 win vs LA and seeing the McDavid goal against the New York Rangers. Evander Kane scoring a hat trick, Mike Smith’s WWE like entrance returning to the game, the Oilers absolutely peppering shots on Markstrom, and the building buzzing was as good as it gets.

Game 4, despite us losing a 3–0 lead and Mike Smith allowing one of the worst goals in NHL history, we found a way to stick through and win.

On May 26, 2022, they did it. Connor McDavid did it. The Oilers showed who truly is the superior Albertan team. McDavid ended the series in overtime and broke the Flames. I don’t think I ever cheered and screamed that loud after a goal in my life. The Oilers were in the Conference Finals.

Even without McDavid, the hatred between these two teams will make it a treat to watch this upcoming Sunday. Let’s hope that the Oil win and embarrass our rivals down south. You can find the game on Sportsnet at 5 p.m. MT.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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