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.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin last year was an accident, according to a determination made by New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports. The medical investigator's report was made public Monday by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office along with numerous reports from the FBI on the revolver and ammunition that were collected following the shooting.
While many Canadians don’t support moving away from the metric system of measurement, many continue to use imperial measurements in their daily lives, according to a recent online poll.
For the second time in less than a month, a resident of Ashcroft, B.C., died while waiting for health care after having a heart attack mere metres from a local ambulance station.
With inflation on the rise and central banks poised to increase rates, CTVNews.ca speaks with experts on whether Canada will experience a recession, and if so, what it would look like.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development of Canada Karina Gould is discouraging people from making fake travel plans just to skip the line of those waiting for passports.
A diving accident at 14-years-old left Brian Parker paralyzed from the chest down. Now at age 49, he's without the person who was caring for him full-time until just last week, after his 68-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard said she was paid 'so much less' than her co-star Chris Pratt for their work in the 'Jurassic World' films.
Opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline currently under construction in Northern B.C took to the streets of Vancouver Monday, briefly blocking north-bound traffic on the Cambie Street Bridge.
'Nightmare without end': Action needed to address rights abuses against Afghan women and girls, advocate says
The international community needs to step up to hold the Taliban accountable for human rights abuses in Afghanistan, a year after the militant Islamist group took control of the country and limited the rights of women and girls, according to Heather Barr, associate director of the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.
City council approved a $15.2 million investment to fund a joint dispatch centre in Chinatown, with some hoping the province would help pick up the tab.
Edmonton City Council decided to halt the Prairie Sky Gondola project for the time being.
The 29-year-old was charged with two counts of impaired operation causing death, impaired driving and possession of an illegal substance.
Due to mounting pressures on staff, the emergency department at Vancouver's UBC Hospital will be scaling back its hours starting Tuesday.
An 87-year-old Metro Vancouver woman was so convinced that the man on the other end of the phone was an attorney, she gave him $10,000.
Calls to ensure timely emergency response after another Ashcroft resident dies waiting for ambulance
For the second time in recent weeks, a resident in the village of Ashcroft has died while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. The tragedy is leading to calls for more immediate action to ensure timely emergency response in the community and across the province.
Nova Scotia is reporting a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for the month of July, while the number of deaths decreased compared to previous months.
Rocca said an examination of dental records was being conducted Monday afternoon in hopes of identification.
‘I feel positive about the whole thing’: Growing number of Maritimers opting for medical assistance in dying
Five years after it was introduced in Canada, it seems more Canadians are seeking a doctor's assistance in ending their own lives.
'Environmental emergency': Fear for B.C.'s endangered orcas after U.S. boat sinks in critical feeding spot
A fishing boat that sank with nearly 10,000 litres of fuel on board near the Canada-U.S. marine border went down in one of the worst possible places for endangered orcas, an ocean pollutants expert says. Peter Ross, a senior scientist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, said the vessel sank in an important feeding area for endangered southern resident killer whales.
The daughters of a 60-year-old Vancouver Island man who was found dead in his home in 2019 are suing the Correctional Service of Canada, claiming negligent prison officials allowed two men to escape from a minimum-security penitentiary and murder their father.
The man accused of killing Nanaimo, B.C., teenager Makayla Chang in 2017 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Steven Bacon entered the guilty plea in a Nanaimo, B.C., courtroom Monday afternoon.
Toronto Pearson International Airport has shown signs of improvements in recent weeks, but a traveller and aviation expert says he was disheartened to see 'mountains' of bags and triple stacked security lines at the airport over the weekend.
As the Canadian National Exhibition prepares to return to Toronto this week, organizers say they worry ongoing labour action could deter people from attending the fair and hamper its revival following a two-year hiatus laden with financial setbacks.
When Airbnb first launched 14 years ago, it changed the way many people book their vacations as they travel locally and around the world.
Quebec health authorities are launching another COVID-19 booster vaccination campaign on Monday, targeting people living in CHSLDs and private seniors' residences (RPAs). The recommended interval between baseline vaccination and a first booster dose is three months or more, while the suggested interval between each subsequent booster dose is five months or more.
Several experts note that the number of whales observed this summer on both sides of the St. Lawrence River is low, even though the observation season is not over.
With one week to go before the start of the new school year, the CSQ is concerned that some CEGEPs will be unable to offer certain services and even some courses due to a lack of staff.
NEW THIS MORNING
An Ottawa family has adopted two beagles that were among thousands freed from a facility in Virginia that was breeding them so they could be sold for drug experiments.
A proposed correctional facility in Kemptville, Ont. has some residents concerned about how it might change the look of their small town and they are taking steps to prevent it from happening.
Addressing municipal leaders in Ottawa this morning, on the first full day of events at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference, Premier Doug Ford said the 'strong mayor' powers he initially said would be granted to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa will be expanded to other municipalities.
As staffing shortages affect several sectors across the province, local non-for-profits say they’re facing a shortage of volunteers.
Some parents are calling for the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) to disclose more details about a data hack that saw what the board describes as “certain” student information accessed.
Bear spray incidents at the Saskatoon Ex have prompted Prairieland Park to look at beefing up security measures at the gates.
A judge is reserving decision in an animal abuse case that saw a dog die after being thrown into a metal clothing rack.
The search for a 74-year-old woman lost in the forest northeast of Smeaton has come to a tragic end.
Lisa LaFlamme is leaving CTV News. The network announced today that the Chief Anchor and Senior Editor is departing after more than 30 years with the company.
Recycling not only benefits the earth, but record prices of certain recyclable products are generating some extra cash for the City of North Bay.
A 72-year-old downtown Sudbury businessman has entered the pool of candidates running for mayor in the City of Greater Sudbury, bringing the number of contenders to nine.
The tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings issued in parts of southern Manitoba Monday evening have ended, though severe thunderstorm watches remain.
Southern Manitoba municipalities are gearing up for fall elections, but in areas where the current mayor or reeve is not running, some communities could be short on candidates.
Three people have been arrested after police officers executed a search warrant, which resulted in an armed and barricaded situation that lasted almost 10 hours.
A recent regulatory amendment now allows First Nations to operate on-reserve cannabis stores without a permit from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). However, some First Nations do not think it will change the way current shops already operate.
A Regina woman has died following a two vehicle collision near the town of Qu’Appelle on Highway 1.
Severe thunderstorms brought tennis ball and golf ball sized hail to parts of southern Saskatchewan overnight.