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'Hockey Night in Canada': 5 Storylines

Flames, Oilers set for latest chapter in Alberta rivalry; Canadiens host Flyers, seek fifth straight win

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

Two of the NHL's top four scorers will oppose each other when the Edmonton Oilers host the Calgary Flames in the second game of a "Hockey Night in Canada" doubleheader on Saturday at Rogers Place (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, SN360, SN1, CITY, NHL.TV).

Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau is second in the NHL with 72 points (28 goals, 44 assists), two points ahead of two-time defending scoring champion Connor McDavid of the Oilers (70 points; 29 goals, 41 assists).

In the first game, the Montreal Canadiens will try to extend their winning streak to five games when the Philadelphia Flyers come to Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, CBC, TVAS, SNE, SNO, NBCSP, NHL.TV).

Here are 5 storylines to keep an eye on:

 

Rivalry renewed

This is the 237th time the Flames and Oilers have played since 1980-81, when the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary. The Flames have had the better of the Alberta rivalry, going 118-94-6 with 18 ties, although the Oilers are 5-0-0 at Rogers Place since the start of the 2016-17 season and won 1-0 when the Flames came to town Dec. 9 (they've never shut out the Flames in consecutive games). The Oilers (23-21-3) figure to be more desperate; while Calgary (31-13-5) sits on top of the Pacific Division and is second in the NHL to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton is one of six teams within one point in a scramble for the two wild cards into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Video: CGY@EDM: Koskinen earns third shutout of the season

 

Gaudreau steps it up

The Flames haven't had a 100-point scorer since Theo Fleury in 1992-93. That could change this season, with Gaudreau taking his game to a new level. He brings the second 10-game point streak of his NHL career into Rogers Place, and the line of Gaudreau, Sean Monahan (59 points; 26 goals, 33 assists) and offseason acquisition Elias Lindholm (56 points; 21 goals, 35 assists) has been one of the NHL's best. Gaudreau looks like a cinch to blow past his NHL career high of 84 points, set last season -- he's on pace for 120. He has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 21 games against the Oilers.

 

McDavid's magnificence

The Oilers have been up and down for most of the season, but McDavid has been their one constant. He has six goals and three assists during a six-game point streak and hasn't been held without a point in back-to-back games this season. McDavid is one goal shy of becoming the sixth player in Oilers history to have three straight 30-goal seasons; the others are all Hockey Hall of Famers (Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey). The Flames will see plenty of McDavid; he averages 22:49 of ice time, the most of any forward in the NHL. McDavid's speed and skill make anyone he plays with a threat to score. The problem for the Oilers has been finding secondary scoring; he's scored or assisted on 52.6 percent of their goals (70 of 133). 

 Video: ARI@EDM: McDavid goes five-hole on a breakaway

 

Canadiens continue to surprise

Montreal (27-17-5) has been one of the surprise teams in the NHL this season. Not much was expected from the Canadiens after they finished 28th among the NHL's 31 teams last season and traded their captain, forward Max Pacioretty, to the Vegas Golden Knights before training camp opened. But they begin Saturday owning the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and are one point behind the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Price and backup Antti Niemi have been solid in goal, and a speedy, deep group of forwards has provided more offense than expected. 

 

Hart making impression with Flyers

Goaltending has been a problem for Philadelphia (18-23-6) in recent years, but 20-year-old rookie Carter Hart has shown that he might be the long-term answer. Hart is 5-5-1 in 11 starts since being called up from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League and has largely looked right at home despite playing for a team that tends to allow a lot of scoring chances. He is one of nine goaltenders since 1997-98 who has started at least 11 games before his 21st birthday, a group that also includes Price.

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