Last battle of Alberta of the season
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Edmonton's Theo Peckham gets tangled up with Calgary's Mikael Backlund during the Edmonton Oilers game against the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Saturday, March 26, 2011. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/EDMONTON SUN)
The only team that might be more upset about Edmonton’s last two wins than the Vancouver Canucks are the Calgary flames.
Their lives are on the line in the tonight’s final instalment of the Battle of Alberta and the last thing they needed to see is Edmonton knocking over an NHL giant.
“Right now, in this crunch, a guy would be lying if he said he wasn’t watching what happened,” said Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. “At this time of year, if you’re not prepared, that can happen. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen to us tonight.”
If it does, the Flames are done. And while an injury-ravaged 30th place team might seem like an easy mark, the Oilers have shown that they’re not a free space on the bingo card.
“They played hard the last time we played in Edmonton against them, too, and we’re going to expect the same thing tonight,” said former Oiler Curtis Glencross. “They’re a confident team, they won the last two games against Vancouver, we’ve all seen it.
“We don’t want to play the style of hockey that Vancouver did in the last two games.”
The Oilers rang up a 4-1 lead and had the Flames dead and buried last time they met, before Calgary crawled out of the grave with three goals in a third period comeback.
“Last time we played against them they out played us for a good 50 minutes,” said Ollie Jokinen. “There are a lot of guys over there who work hard and want to impress their coaching staff and management and want to be in the league next year. There’s no such thing as an easy game against them.”
If the Flames fall behind again, given all the pressure of their situation, they might not be so lucky this time.
“That last game in Edmonton we didn’t get off to the start we wanted so we have to make sure that’s a priority tonight,” said Mark Giordano. “It’s definitely not going to be an easy game by any means, it’s going to be a hard-fought game. I’m sure they’re going to be motivated to knock us out. We have to come out with a lot of energy but I think we’ll be OK, though.”
No matter what happens tonight, the Flames are still long shots. They have games in hand and tie breakers working against them, but they still have hope on their side.
“As a team we’re excited, we’re still alive, we’re still not out of it,” said Giordano. “When you need help it’s not an ideal situation... life is still there. We’re not out of it yet, you never know, stranger things have happened. Hopefully we can get some help, but we have to win first to have any chance at all.”