ABC – Always Beat Calgary

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) and Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) exchanges words. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) and Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) exchanges words. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oilers were hungrier to win than the Flames were. Know why? Darryl Sutter’s end of the series press conference was a bit of a tell. He said the Flames were only trying to make the playoffs, which they did. Is it possible they lost the mental game for this series and thus the series itself because they set their goals too low? It certainly appears that way.

The Oilers are driven to win the cup right now. They might not get there, but you can tell the desire and belief is there to do so – and even if they fall on their face in the third round at least they’ll have made it much further than they have in the past two seasons and can build on that going forward. But all of that being said, no one on the Oilers is content with winning in the second round. They all publicly say it no matter who’s being interviewed.

The Flames, on the other hand, were only trying to make the playoffs, a goal they had already accomplished prior to starting the second round with the Oilers. With the Oilers having the loftier goal, they naturally would’ve been hungrier to win in the series, and thus would’ve skated just a hair faster, been just a little more stingier defensively, and make the more timely plays by inches, all of which it takes to win in the playoffs. Playoff hockey is a game of inches and fractions of a second. You just have to be a little better than your opposition and you’ll win the series.

The Oilers clearly did that while the Flames didn’t.