The reignited Battle of Alberta has been the best thing in hockey in 2020. A string of three games in close succession started off with a spark from Matthew Tkachuck and ended in the powder keg that was Saturday night’s main event tilt at centre ice between the team’s goaltenders
The fight between Cam Talbot and Mike Smith wasn’t the only time a goalie was part of the storyline between the two teams in the matchups, with Dave Rittich’s celebratory stick flip at the end of Wednesday’s shootout win also causing minor murmurs from players and members of the media.
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At the end of Saturday’s game, Leon Draisaitl let it be known that he hadn’t appreciated the gesture after Rittich poked away his attempt to keep the game alive.
“It’s just disrespectful, you know?” Draisaitl told reporters after the game. “We hit two posts and he’s celebrating like they just won the Stanley Cup, you know? I get it, they’re excited. Good for them, they won the game in the shootout but show some respect. That’s my opinion.”
After Rittich was pulled from the contest, it was Talbot that was in goal for Calgary on Saturday to pay the toll for the celebration, a moment that was also appreciated by the Oilers forward.
“I think obviously that’s just like a cherry on top a little bit,” he said of the goaltender-on-goaltender scrap. “Respect to both goalies for doing that, obviously Smitty’s a tough customer out there. It was entertaining.”
The regional rivalry has a little time to cool off now, as the two teams don’t play each other again until the last day of the regular season on April 4. Draisaitl’s comments about the celebration will have to suffice as the final stir of the pot for now.
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