Alright hockey fans, the first Flames vs Oilers playoffs series in over three decades is about to begin. And… we honestly need a little refresher on the history of the rivalry. Sure, the Battle of Alberta is always a must-watch, but when the last playoff matchup went down in ’91, a little recap of history wouldn’t do us any harm.
Starting from the beginning, the first Battle of Alberta playoffs series went down in 1983. Keep in mind that the Oilers had only joined the NHL in 1979, while the Flames moved to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. This was also the first season that games were held in the now-iconic Saddledome.
Ticket prices for upcoming Oilers vs. Flames games are already off the charts
Reso Reminder: Here’s the full Battle of Alberta games schedule
Even with relatively fresh faces, the Flames and the Oilers quickly emerged as two of the strongest NHL teams of the era. Nonetheless, with Wayne Gretzky signed to a 21-year contract for the Oilers, the team emerged victorious in ’83, defeating the Flames 4-1 in the series with some insane blowouts (10-2 in Game 3, and 9-1 in Game 5).
Led by Gretzky, the Oilers would become of the NHL’s greatest dynasties throughout the 80s. They would best the Flames 2 more times in that decade, in both 1984 and 1988. However, the Flames at least had a decent consolation prize, with the Oilers going on to win the Stanley Cup both years.
In between those matchups though, one of the most interesting upsets in NHL playoffs history went down. In 1986, during Game 7 of the series no less, Oilers defenceman Steve Smith scored an own-goal with a missed breakout pass that ended up being the game, and series winner, for the Flames. It was also his birthday. Sorry, Steve.
As a quick aside, and maybe emboldened by the Oilers dominance during the era, the Flames would end up winning the Stanley Cup in the final year of the decade, taking things home in 1989. It continues to be the team’s only championship, but, we’re still salty about the missed call in ’04. No , we don’t want to talk about.
To make things even more interesting, the final Flames vs Oilers playoffs series happened in 1991. A couple of years after the Gretzky trade, and with Lanny McDonald gone from Calgary in 1989, the two teams faced off once more in the opening series. The Oilers would win the series 4-3, but couldn’t get past the conference finals.
In a way, the Battle of Alberta represented the very best of both teams. At least up until now, that is. Do we have high hopes that this series will once more spark greatness in both Calgary and Edmonton? You better believe it.
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