The Wraparound: Perfectly timed Battle of Alberta for Flames, Oilers

The Wraparound: Perfectly timed 'Battle of Alberta' for Flames, Oilers
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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Catch up on Game 1 of Blues – Avalanche and Lightning – Panthers in the Tuesday Rink Wrap.

• The NHL announced the 2022 Selke Trophy finalists: Aleksander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, and Elias Lindholm.

• It’s not too late to read PHT’s Roundtable about the playoffs so far, with some looks at the future.

As exciting as Game 1 (9:30 p.m. ET) is, it’s almost criminal that the Flames and Oilers haven’t engaged in a “Battle of Alberta” since 1991.

For all of the shortcomings of the NHL’s playoff and divisional formats recently, the goal was to develop “Battle of Alberta”-type rivalries. Reignite old ones. Make new ones.

But, to some extent, there’s that key variable: if one or both teams aren’t good enough, they won’t get many chances to make the playoffs.

There’s a bright side to the Flames and Oilers finally meeting in this “Battle of Alberta.” You could argue that there’s never been a better time for this to happen again.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

Just look at the two biggest superstars.

Connor McDavid was superhuman through Game 7 against the Kings. Fellow Oilers star Leon Draisaitl didn’t just rave about the offense, but also that McDavid would not be “denied.”

“There’s lots of skill with him, that’s a given, but it’s the will,” Draisaitl said. “You can see it in his eyes, you can feel it every shift that he’s out there. He’s determined.

Through seven games, McDavid generated an outstanding 14 points. Beyond that, he dominated at 5-on-5, and played a 200-ft. game.

[NHL Power Rankings: Top Second Round storylines]

Johnny Gaudreau similarly dominated, breaking through when no one else could against Jake Oettinger, including on the overtime-winner in Game 7. Gaudreau’s eight points in seven games don’t match McDavid’s output, yet both stars are silencing doubters about their playoff prowess.

It’s the sort of thing that gets you a big hug.

Delightfully, both McDavid and Gaudreau enjoy better supporting casts than they’ve likely had with the Oilers and Flames respectively. (Calgary’s deeper, but Edmonton has other weapons.)

Aside from wanting more series, more often, there’s not much more you can ask for with a “Battle of Alberta.”

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports): In PHT’s predictions, four of five people chose the Hurricanes over the Rangers. That’s the sort of confidence you normally only get from dentists. The reasoning is simple. The Rangers faced a Penguins team ravaged by injuries, including in net, and barely won. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes’ goalies were the ones suffering injuries, yet they beat a strong Bruins opponent. Carolina also boasted a far superior team during the season from an analytics standpoint, and many would agree that “the eye test” would argue similarly for them over New York.

If narratives carry over from round to round, then Game 1 (and 2) could favor the Hurricanes over the Rangers even more. After all, the Hurricanes were perfect (and at times, scary-good) at home during their series against Boston.

Game 1: Oilers at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Avalanche vs. Blues

Lightning vs. Panthers
Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
NHL Second Round predictions
Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round

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