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Western Conference Semifinal
Edmonton +150 over Calgary
10:30 PM EST. Somehow, the opening night of the first “Battle of Alberta” in three decades managed to be more chaotic and more unpredictable than the current state of the province’s current political environment. We’re not going to touch that topic because we know better, but safe to say, when your Premier pulls a “Constanza” by blowing out and leaving his post with great fury and then shows up the next day like nothing happened, you know that hockey game was freakin’ bananas.
We’ve poured over the stats, tuned into the local call-in shows and read the beat writers to figure out if there was anything of value to be pulled from that wild Game 1 and we just don’t see it. We know the suits are doing their best with the air time they have to fill, but what do you say about a game where one side jumps to a 5-1 lead and gives it all back? Sure, the Flames won, but if you are wearing red today, do you feel good about that win?
Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen took all the heat in that 9-6 final, and perhaps justifiably so. Smith put his team in a big hole and just as they dug themselves out (tying the game at 6-6), Koskinen gave it right back less than 2:30 later. Lost in the shade being thrown towards the Oilers’ goaltenders is the fact that Jacob Markstrom could not help his team hold on to multiple four goal leads. Markstrom better buy both Rasmus Andersson and Matthew Tkachuk dinner for the next month. Otherwise, we might be talking about one of the great playoff game collapses in recent memory.
We can overstate enough how lucky Markstrom is. It’s not like the Flames stopped skating circles around the Oilers and let up when it was 5-1. They didn’t. Calgary dominated the puck possession game, as it usually does. The Oilers didn’t even pepper Markstrom with a barrage of High Danger Scoring Chances. In fact, Edmonton did the opposite, putting just three High Danger Chances on net in the final 40 minutes, but scored five goals. We repeat. Nobody is thanking their lucky stars more than Markstrom.
We backed the Oilers in Game 1 and cited their pocket aces in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. We’re not backing off that position. The Oilers could not have gotten a worse game from their goaltenders and they still had a chance to win with less than 20 minutes on the clock. If you stayed up to watch the end of that game, you could have heard a pin drop in the Saddledome when the Oilers tied it up. Butt cheeks were clenched, teeth were grinding and palms were sweating. The Flames played an incredible game and still almost lost. One figures that the Oilers are going to have a better start than a 5-1 deficit. If they don’t? So what, there is no score that McDavid and crew cannot overcome but most importantly is that the dog in every game of this series has massive appeal. This one is no different.
Edmonton +150 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.00)