Flames searching for answers to McDavid, Oilers with Edmonton eyeing 3-1 series lead
The Calgary Flames need to figure out a way to at least begin to contain Connor McDavid.
The same goes for Leon Draisaitl. Evander Kane, too.
Because if they don't start putting up some roadblocks to slow down the Oilers captain and his scorching-hot linemates, the first playoff Battle of Alberta in 31 years could be over quicker than most thought possible — and with the opposite result.
McDavid, Draisaitl and Kane have combined for 55 points in 10 post-season contests this spring, including an outrageous 21 through three outings against the Flames in a second-round series Edmonton leads 2-1 heading into Tuesday's Game 4.
"We've got to be above them more, we've got to check better," Calgary defenceman Noah Hanifin said Monday. "That's a great line and (McDavid's) a great player.
"But we've just got to take away his strengths, which is his skating and (chances) off the rush."
A good skater in his own right, Hanifin was torched by McDavid in the neutral zone on the sequence that led to Kane's second of three goals during a frantic six-minute span in Sunday's 4-1 victory that nudged the Oilers ahead in the best-of-seven matchup.
"That's his game," Hanifin added. "You've just gotta be aware when he's on the ice and make sure you're not putting yourself in a position where you can get beat or you're vulnerable to his speed.
"The awareness is key."
Oilers interim head coach Jay Woodcraft, who loaded up his top line in Game 6 of Edmonton's first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, is keenly aware what he's watching from the bench on a nightly basis isn't close to normal.
McDavid has 23 points in his 10 playoff games this spring, which is already more than the final totals of six post-season scoring leaders dating back to 2003.
The 25-year-old has somehow found another gear in these playoffs.
"I get a front-row seat," Woodcroft said. "What he's doing is special. He's inspiring every person in our organization to be the best that they can be, whether it's Richard in the mailroom or Shauna in HR.
"What he's bringing to the table each and every day, it is pushing this entire organization and our city forward."
What the Flames, who were among the NHL's best defensive teams during the regular season in topping the Pacific Division, will look to do Tuesday is try and put the brakes on what's been a runaway No. 97 train.
That includes getting back to an identity and foundation that's largely been lacking for a group on its heels since the second period of Game 2 when the Oilers opened the floodgates on the way to scoring four unanswered goals for a 5-3 victory following a wild 9-6 defeat in the opener.
McDavid established a new league record with his ninth multi-point game out of 10 to start a post-season Sunday, while Kane leads the NHL with 10 goals and became just the fourth Edmonton player to score multiple hat tricks in a playoffs, joining Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky.
And then there's Draisaitl, who's clearly nursing an injury suffered late in the L.A. series, but still has 19 points to sit second behind McDavid in the scoring race.
"We've just learned lessons over the last couple of years," Draisaitl said of a team finding its way. "As you get older and as you grow as a team, you just learn how to deal with these ups and downs. We're maturing."
Woodcroft said the Oilers faced "trials and tribulation" throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
"Some of which I was here for, some of which I wasn't," said the 45-year, a February replacement following Dave Tippett's firing. "But what I saw was a hardening of the group, a group coming together and concentrating on how to solve problems."
Calgary winger Milan Lucic — booted from Sunday's game in the third period after barrelling over Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith — said the Flames need to find a better balance against their provincial rival.
"Maybe our focus has been a little bit too much on the Oilers and we've started playing their game a little bit more than we've wanted," Lucic said. "All our energy and focus has to go into finding our game.
"When we do that, we give ourselves a really good chance."
Both clubs were in the same situation in the first round heading into Game 4. Edmonton subsequently lost 4-0 to the Kings in L.A. with a chance to go up 3-1, while Calgary rebounded from a pair of losses to beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 on the road and even that series.
"We should actually be grateful for the last round," Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie said. "It can take teams a full year to learn a lesson like we did. We just know it's far from over. We have a great opportunity in front of us here to take a big step and a big lead.
"The last time we had that opportunity ... we weren't really even close to grabbing it."
Hanifin said the Flames take a level of comfort knowing they rediscovered their game at the same juncture two weeks ago.
The Stars, however, didn't have the Oilers' firepower.
"There's a lot of hockey left," Hanifin said. "We're excited about that challenge and an opportunity to tie it up and bring it back home."
All that's standing in the way is a team growing in confidence led by a player in McDavid seemingly reaching new heights on a nightly basis.
"The level he's raised his game to right now, I don't think we've seen that before," Barrie said. "I can't imagine what it's like trying to slow him down.
"Just glad he's on our side."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2022.
Calgary Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Many Canadians remain unaware of the involvement of forced child labour in the products they buy, according to non-profit agency World Vision Canada.
Hundreds of protesters descended on the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday to denounce the justice's decision to overturn the half-century-old Roe v. Wade precedent that recognized women's constitutional right to abortion.
As Pride festivities kick off around the world, many refugees are celebrating the LGBTQ2S+ community for the first time.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.
The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in nearly 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, holding that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion, protesters and supporters of the ruling gathered at the high court's building in Washington, D.C., and in other cities nationwide.
With the nation's capital bracing for anticipated anti-mandate 'freedom' movement protests during Canada Day weekend, interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen says her MPs are free to attend.
A barge that ran aground near Vancouver's English Bay last year quickly became an accidental attraction, drawing selfie-seekers and inspiring T-shirt designs. But after seven months, residents seem to have grown weary of its hulking presence on the shoreline.
Ukraine's largest LGBTQ rights event, KyivPride, is going ahead on Saturday. But not on its native streets and not as a celebration.
Fans leaving the Garth Brooks concert at Commonwealth Stadium Friday night were happy and smiling, despite some logistical issues that delayed the show and frustrated some.
A Member of Parliament from rural Alberta went live on Facebook Friday to celebrate a United States Supreme Court vote to end constitutional protections for abortion.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of Edmonton City Hall Saturday to celebrate the first large Pride event in the city in four years, and the first one in Churchill Square in eight.
As the first sustained heat of the season settles in across B.C.'s south coast, Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a special weather statement advising people of high temperatures and humidex values through Monday.
Metro Vancouver is experiencing its first stretch of hot summer weather this weekend and people are scouring stores looking for air conditioners and fans to cool off – some being met with empty shelves.
The family of a Vancouver police officer who died by suicide is suing the department, alleging she endured sexual assault and exploitation enabled by an "unsafe workplace culture and insufficient policies and procedures," court documents show.
An Amber Alert issued by Cape Breton Regional Police on Friday has been cancelled, as the missing youth has been located safe early Saturday morning says police.
The inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting, says four pages of handwritten notes that sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa this week, weren’t immediately submitted when subpoenaed by its investigators.
'It’s in shambles': RCMP 'architects of own demise,' says criminologist after complaints in N.B. and N.S.
After a week of criticism and anger at the Mass Casualty Commission in Nova Scotia, and outcry in a rural area of New Brunswick, there are questions about the RCMP’s role in community policing.
A 15-month dispute in British Columbia's film and television industry has ended with the ratification of a new contract for creative and logistical staff working on productions shot in the province.
All ferry sailings between two of B.C.'s Discovery Islands have been cancelled Saturday because of a lack of crew.
When Tabi Henry was little, she never questioned why everyone celebrated her birthday in costume. Until she realized Oct. 31 was also Halloween.
Dozens of people gathered outside the U.S. consulate in downtown Toronto Saturday to protest a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn constitutional protection for abortion rights.
Office workers are returning to Toronto but foot traffic on Mondays and Fridays hasn’t bounced back. Will it ever?
More people are commuting to offices downtown than at any point since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but the recovery hasn’t been equal across the board, with both GO Transit and the TTC reporting fluctuations in ridership as many workers choose to work from home at the beginning and end of each week.
Every Monday, Mark Powell drives to the Burlington, Ont., pork plant where his wife died to give water to pigs on their way to slaughter.
Paramedics in Greater Montreal are stretched particularly thin this weekend, with nearly half the territory's ambulances parked due to a staffing shortage.
Police on Montreal's South Shore has located the suspect vehicle they say was involved in a hit-and-run that left a woman dead.
Friends and family of a 17-year-old girl who died in what police are calling an accident on the shore in LaSalle gathered Saturday to remember the Montreal teen who her mother said was 'was full of life.'
The summer festival season in Ottawa kicked off this weekend with thousands gathering for events across the city.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | What you need to know about Canada Day events in Ottawa
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the Canada Day activities across the city of Ottawa, including at the new location at LeBreton Flats.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Here's a list of Canada Day events across eastern Ontario
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at events happening across eastern Ontario on Canada Day.
A fire at a townhouse complex in Kitchener Friday night has resulted in extensive damage.
Many in Waterloo Region are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and what it could mean for Canada.
Norfolk County OPP are investigating after they say a pedestrian was found on the side of a road and had to be airlifted to hospital.
When Ennio Muzzolini walked into Christies Mayfair Bakery in 1965 interested in purchasing the small bakery on 33rd Street, he never imagined he’d one day be looking on as hundreds of people lined the block to get their hands on a baguette, cinnamon bun or wood-fired pizza.
Organizers have decided to cancel the Elk Ridge Open due to an “inordinate amount of rain.”
A Saskatoon man whose family helped to build the Waterhen Lake Church is planning to help rebuild the church.
Nipissing-Timiskaming Liberal MP Anthony Rota said he was shocked by Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.
With hundreds of students from India who attend Northern College, and other professionals from India who've moved to the city to work, organizers said they felt it was time to bring everyone together to celebrate their culture with the rest of the community.
A group of friends doing work on a camp in MacGregor Bay helped contain what could have been a devastating fire in Killarney Provincial Park.
Using a trailer or an RV is an easy way for people to get out of the city and into the outdoors, but with soaring gas prices, the cost of driving with one has gone up drastically.
Winnipeg was once again pummelled by rain on Friday and the city came close to setting a rainfall record.
No one was injured but one pet died after an early morning fire Saturday.
Over 400 people contributed to the Field of Dreams project, which led to the purchase of a large track of prairie grasslands for preservation.
The Saskatchewan NDP will elect its next leader at a convention on Sunday.
Saskatchewan RCMP are investigating after a two-vehicle collision occurred at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 5 in Wadena.