Ahead of the game: Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers

For the first time since September, the Calgary Flames will face the Edmonton Oilers in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.   Here are some insights, observations and betting odds on what some might call a ‘statement’ game for the Flames.

It feels odd that the Calgary Flames have not faced the Edmonton Oilers since the start of the regular season.  But it’s been an odd year.   A two-plus month gap between meetings was extended by an additional month when the game on December 27th had to be postponed when the Flames went into COVID protocol.

On Saturday, those of us starving for the Battle of Alberta will finally be rewarded.  Here’s what I’ll be looking at when the Flames take the ice.

Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Saturday, January 22nd
8:00 PM MT
CBC, Rogers SportsNet
Flames 1.83
Problems in Oil Country

Let’s face it.  Neither of these teams have been setting the world on fire lately.

The Oilers have lost their last 7 games, and have only won twice since December 1st. There are a lot of problems in the provincial capital, chief among them is goaltending.  As Flame for Thought pointed out, the Oilers can lay claim to the league’s worst Save Percentage, an overall .865.  The tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen are clearly not getting the job done.

But you can’t lay it all on the feet of the goalies.  In the 16-game stretch since December 1st, the Oilers superstars haven’t been very good either.  Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who the team depends on for offence, have only scored 5 and 6 goals respectively.  These are not great numbers when scoring isn’t coming from anywhere else.

Edmonton’s issues have been well documented.  And their frustration is mounting.  Earlier this week in a media availability, Draisaitl was accused by a reporter of being “pissy” after giving a discourteous answer to a question.

A lot has to change in Edmonton to get things rolling again.

Which Flames Team Shows Up?

The Calgary Flames have not been much better.  Having only won 4 of their last 13, their freefall from the top of the standings is only slightly less concerning than that of the Oilers.

This prompted Head Coach Darryl Sutter to challenge the team’s lack of emotion.  And it caused me to wonder whether the Flames were underperforming in the same way that caused many of Sutter’s predecessors to lose their jobs.

Were it not for an outstanding performance against the Florida Panthers, the best offensive team in the NHL, there would be a great deal more to worry about.

So which team are we going to get on Saturday?  As fans we want to see the same group we saw against Florida.  We want the Flames to put the proverbial boot on the throat of a troubled team and not let up.  But an unemotional start seems just as likely.

I’ll be fascinated to watch it all unfold.

Betting Odds

According to WynnBET, the Calgary Flames are 1.5-point favourites on the road.  The Flames have 1.83 moneyline odds, while the Oilers are the home ‘dogs at an even 2.00.  The total for the game is set at an over/under of 6.5 with the under being favoured at 1.86.