Flames need ‘everybody’ to slow McDavid, Draisaitl in West Second Round


CALGARY — The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers will write the next chapter of the Battle of Alberta in the Western Conference Second Round.

But for Elias Lindholm and the Flames, the battle within the battle is containing Oilers forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, starting with Game 1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“Two really good players, and you know you have to be aware and be on top and stay above all the time,” Lindholm said Tuesday. “There’s no cheating, stuff like that.

“It’s a tough challenge, obviously.”

McDavid, who led the NHL with 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in the regular season, had 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in seven games against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He became the eighth player in NHL history to have that many points in a first round; only former Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux (17 against the Washington Capitals in the 1992 division semifinals) and former Oilers center Wayne Gretzky (15 against the Los Angeles Kings in the 1987 division semifinals) had more.

Draisaitl, who finished fourth in the NHL with 110 points (55 goals, 55 assists) in the regular season, had nine points (five goals, four assists) against Los Angeles.

Calgary defenseman Michael Stone said it will take a total team effort to shut down Edmonton forwards in the first postseason series between the rivals since 1991.

“It’s not just defensemen. I think all five guys on the ice need to contribute to that,” Stone said. “You have to know where they are and limit their time and space. That takes everybody.”

[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Oilers series coverage]

Draisaitl, who did not skate prior to Game 7 but played in a 2-0 win against the Kings, has not skated the past two days for undisclosed reasons. Forwards Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also didn’t skate Tuesday. But Oilers general manager Ken Holland told their radio show that everyone who did not skate is expected to play in Game 1.

The Flames and Oilers split their four games in the regular season, with Calgary outscoring Edmonton 17-16. Draisaitl had 11 points (five goals, six assists), and McDavid had seven (three goals, four assists). Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, who played all four games and had a 3.54 goals-against average and .884 save percentage, said none of that matters heading into the second round.

“It’s 0-0 games now,” Markstrom said. “So, it’s best of-7 and we have to be ready and play our game and be at our best to win hockey games.”

Markstrom, who was 4-3 with a 1.53 GAA, .943 save percentage and one shutout in the first round, said there’s a bit of a change for him going from the first-round series against the defensive-minded Dallas Stars to an Oilers team that averaged 3.86 goals per game in the regular season, fourth-best in the NHL.

“The end goal is the same for me: You’ve got to stop the puck,” Markstrom said. “It doesn’t matter who you play against, that’s still the only goal for me and the only thing I’m worried about. Obviously, it’s different personnel and you’re going to see different looks than maybe you saw with Dallas. They have some great players and a great power play. We have to be good and I have to play good, and that’s what it comes down to.”

Indeed, the Oilers power play is another concern. They went 7-for-19 (36.8 percent) against the Kings, second among playoff teams after the Colorado Avalanche (7-for-16, 43.8 percent). Edmonton (36.8 percent) and Colorado (43.8) were the top two teams in the regular season as well.

“It’s a tough challenge and I know it’s a big key for us is to stay 5-on-5 and stay out of the box,” Lindholm said. “Obviously they have some good chemistry and have a good power play, so stuff like that, that’s going to be important.”

The Flames are coming off a first-round series in which they and the Stars ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, in goals scored per game (2.14 for Calgary; 2.00 for Dallas). But the Flames were averaging 3.55 goals per game in the regular season (sixth in the NHL), so there’s probably a chance for more offense in the Battle of Alberta, right?

“Hopefully more on our side,” Stone said with a laugh. “That’s the plan.”

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