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
Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Thursday after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang's previous launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan.
The Ottawa woman who former Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is convicted of sexually assaulting says she is now suing him for $2.8 million.
In the first footage of its kind, scientists captured the moment a pod of orcas hunted great white sharks in South Africa.
Starting Thursday, businesses in Canada will soon be able to pass credit card fees on to their customers, thanks to a multimillion-dollar class-action settlement involving Visa and Mastercard.
A Texas death row inmate whose case redefined the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide was executed Wednesday, despite the efforts of a district attorney to stop his lethal injection.
Colorado baker fights ruling over gender transition cake years after case involving gay couple's wedding cake
The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple's wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling he violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.
Eric Weinberg, an executive producer and writer for the hit TV show 'Scrubs' and many others, has been charged with sexually assaulting five women that he lured to photo shoots and there could be many more victims, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Wednesday.
As the holiday season approaches, food banks across Canada are desperate for donations due to an increasing amount of clients. As inflation hits all Canadians, those who feel the impact most are the vulnerable communities with the highest food insecurity rates.
Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party is scheduled pick the province’s new premier Thursday, and political observers say its next step should be getting back on the same page as the rest of the province.
The Alberta government says it is set to become the first province in Canada to regulate psychedelic therapies for mental health disorders
Edmonton restaurants will not be allowed to serve food in styrofoam containers and plastic shopping bags will be banned starting July 1, 2023.
'The worst that it has ever been': Concern mounting as severe drought conditions persist in parts of B.C.
On B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, home to about 20,000 residents, drought conditions have caused water levels to drop so low an emergency operations centre has been activated.
3 taken to hospital after trailer flips, spills load into oncoming traffic on Vancouver-Burnaby border
A trailer attached to a dump truck flipped and spilled its load into oncoming traffic on the Vancouver-Burnaby border Wednesday, and paramedics say three people have been taken to hospital.
'My disability informs me': Quadriplegic West Vancouver council candidate shares inspiring life journey
Twenty-four years after the accident that changed her life forever, Alexis Chicoine is running for West Vancouver council with the goal of improving accessibility in the district.
More than 16,000 customers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are still without electricity 12 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit the Maritimes on Sept. 23. The ongoing outages and restoration efforts have prompted the Nova Scotia government to declare a state of emergency in several counties in northern Nova Scotia.
Some Nova Scotians are unsure if they qualify for the federal Fiona recovery fund announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.
Post-tropical storm Fiona changed the coastline of Prince Edward Island forever, however nowhere is more obvious than the P.E.I. National Park on the island’s north shore.
Victorians lined up outside city hall on Wednesday to cast an advance vote for the next leader of the city. Across the street, those vying to be the next mayor squared off in a live debate hosted by Victoria radio station CFAX 1070.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (BCCOS) has confirmed that two African servals are on the loose in the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island. The exotic cats have killed a domestic cat, according to the BC SPCA.
B.C. Premier John Horgan says the New Democrat government's crime-fighting agenda involves more than increasing arrests of alleged violent offenders. Horgan says he agrees with Attorney General Murray Rankin who told the legislature on Tuesday that a focus on more arrests of prolific offenders to curb crime would be “futile.”
The Ottawa woman who former Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is convicted of sexually assaulting says she is now suing him for $2.8 million.
Businesses in Ontario will be allowed to pass on credit card fees to customers starting on Thursday. There are a few things businesses and consumers need to know.
Insults, discrimination, mental distress and a lack of support from leadership – these are some of the claims brought forward by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees who say bullying and harassment have become commonplace in the publicly funded workplace.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will no longer transfer funds to the national organization.
Organizers of the Montreal Pride need to pay for security, communicate better, and hire more experienced staff to avoid another repeat of the devastating cancellation of the parade next year, according to a post-mortem report into the August 2022 fiasco.
The new rule allowing businesses in Canada to pass credit card fees onto customers will not apply in Quebec.
Ottawa police say a man is dead, and two other people were injured in a shooting in the area of Tompkins Avenue and Tenth Line Road Wednesday night.
Ottawa police are reporting a sharp rise in the number of vehicles stolen in Ottawa this year, with newer model Honda CRV's topping the list of targets for thieves.
Ottawa city councillors may soon need to disclose personal relationships with city staff to the city’s integrity commissioner.
The family of a man with a service dog who was forcibly removed from a Kitchener, Ont. restaurant last fall, is speaking out after assault charges against the two men involved were withdrawn.
The process to remove a truck that crashed into a building in Atwood a month ago started on Wednesday, as portions of the building were torn down to help dislodge the truck.
The Region of Waterloo is reminding business owners to start winterizing their property while avoiding over-salting surfaces.
The chief forensic pathologist for the Saskatchewan coroners service took to the stand in Saskatoon on Wednesday for the trial of Ranbir Dhull.
Following his $1 million lotto win, Rollins Head was in such a state of disbelief he checked his ticket at two different stores.
With rising inflation across the country programs that provide free food in Saskatoon are contending with unprecedented need.
Two recent incidents of adults trying to lure children have North Bay and area parents and caregivers on edge.
Cambrian College in Sudbury is still offering a free dental clinic as a way to help both people in need and students in the dental hygiene program.
Candidates vying to be Sault Ste. Marie’s new mayor say a few issues appear to be top of mind for voters: homelessness, drug addiction and mental health.
More than one-third of Winnipeggers believe people who have occupied public spaces in the city should be allowed to stay there briefly, according to a recent poll.
The Winnipeg Police Service has charged five more people after an encampment was cleared at the Manitoba legislature on Tuesday.
A mayoral debate Wednesday hosted by the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association saw four of Winnipeg’s 11 mayoral hopefuls talk crime, infrastructure and economic development.
Saskatchewan residents are paying more to attend live concerts, theatre performances and art gallery exhibitions following an expansion of the provincial sales tax.
A Regina woman who was convicted in 2019 for embezzling millions of dollars has been granted her appeal and a new trial has been ordered.
McKell Wascana Conservation Park is officially the Regina Wetland Centre of Excellence serving as an outdoor classroom for science students at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School.