Battle lines drawn as Flames and Oilers get ready for epic series

The last time the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers faced each other in the playoffs was way back in 1991.

Most players on either team weren't born or have no recollection of that Battle of Alberta because they were too young.

Flames defenceman Michael Stone said he's starting to feel the excitement in the city.

"Well I mean I had people waving at me on my way in today so haven't had that in a while," he laughed.

"I haven't been to the second round since my first year in the league so this is real exciting for me.  Especially being the Battle of Alberta.  I've been in this city long enough to know what that means."

BRINGING THE PROVINCE TOGETHER

Flames coach Darryl Sutter said the Battle of Alberta is important for the province.  In the world according to Sutter, a resident of Viking, Alta., which is located pretty much halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, there are three things that bring (Alberta) people together.

"Sports, church and music. Think about it," he said.

"What this is doing for Alberta right now is bringing people together," Sutter said. "They might cheer for the Oilers.  They might cheer for the Flames.  Big deal, it's a sport.  It's what it's about, it's the best thing ever.  Like for the NHL what more could you ask for?"

GREAT ONE PICKS THE FLAMES

The Battle of Alberta is generating a lot of interest outside the province as well.  Before the playoffs started, former Oiler legend Wayne Gretzky, now a TNT hockey analyst, picked the Flames to win this series and that must have generated a couple emails to TNT from Edmonton.

Of course @WayneGretzky’s #StanleyCup bracket is PERFECT through round one �� @NHL_On_TNT pic.twitter.com/WFPo8b536M

— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 16, 2022

Flames forward Milan Lucic weighed in on the Great One picking the team he once picked apart when the Battle of Alberta was more of an annual event.

"I'm sure they don't like it but you know he's just giving his expert opinion," Lucic, who was traded by the Oilers to the Flames said.

EXCITING TIMES

For players it's hard not to get excited with what's happening in the city.  Fans have been waiting a long time for the Flames to advance in the playoffs.  This is only the second time the Flames have advanced past the second round since 2004.  Elias Lindholm said the team felt the love after beating Dallas in Game 7 on Sunday night.

"I think the NHL did half of the bench and up top and the Red Lot so I watched that a couple of times.  Yeah it's exciting and it's fun.  Fun to see so many people supporting us."

BE READY FOR PUCK DROP

Obviously the Flames were able to enjoy beating the Stars, but goaltender Jacob Markstrom said it's time to start focusing in on the Oilers.

"It's going to be fun," Markstrom said.

"It's going to be wild in the crowd but at the same time we've got to be composed and play our game."