FlamesNation Roundtable: Round 1 Predictions

It is finally here – the Calgary Flames begin their playoff journey today.

But will that journey be long or short? Will they get past the hated Vancouver Canucks and their fail whale jerseys? We asked the best bunch of people we know, the FlamesNation crew.

THE PANEL

Ryan Pike @RyanNPike FN managing editor; The Hockey Writers senior writer
Kent Wilson @Kent_Wilson FN founder, contributor, overlord emeritus; analytics pioneer
Pat Steinberg @Fan960Steinberg FN columnist; Flames game-day host on Sportsnet 960 The Fan
Thomas Drance @ThomasDrance Nations overlord; Sportsnet Canucks columnist
Ryan Lambert @twolinepass FN columnist; Yahoo Sports columnist; college hockey lover
Ari @thirtyfourseven FN contributor; Matchsticks and Gasoline editor
Book of Loob @bookofloob FN contributor, living legend; The Canafornians contributor
Byron Bader @baderater FN contributor
Mike Cadarette @cadarette_M FN contributor; AHL/prospects lover; BC resident
Christian Roatis @CRoatis FN contributor; draft lover
Beloch N/A FN contributor
Taylor McKee @TaylorMcKee_ FN contributor; BC resident

THE ANSWERS

RYAN P.: Flames in 7. Calgary is made of pure puck luck and grit at this point. Eventually, they will run out of human bodies to play their system effectively, or run into a team where playing that system doesn’t help them. This will be close, but I think they eke one out.

KENT: Vancouver in 7. The Flames are the worst 5-on-5 team to
make the playoffs in the modern era, at least in terms of driving
possession. It’s a substantial handicap, particularly in the absence of
Mark Giordano, their best skater at even strength. Flames made hay on
special teams and in extra time during the regular season, but there’s
no 4on4 OT in the playoffs and penalties tend to be harder to come by. 

PAT: Calgary in 6. This season has been insane to begin with, so we might as well see
the Flames win a round to top it all off. Calgary is not a good
possession team and they relied on some crazy percentages all year long.
But the good news is, Vancouver isn’t THAT much
better than they are. If there’s one team the Flames can beat it’s the
Canucks, and I think they’ll have just enough magic left to do just
that.

THOMAS: These teams are weird and this series is going to be close, tough and
entertaining. I don’t have a good feel for the Flames, and haven’t all
year. In fact I picked of these teams to miss the playoffs at the start
of the season, so take my predictions with all of the salt. Vancouver’s
got the special teams advantage and is the better 5-on-5 team, but the
Flames’ speed and team-level discipline will give them fits. I’ll take
the Canucks to win, narrowly, in seven games.

RYAN L: Canucks in 5 or maybe 6. The Flames aren’t good. The Canucks aren’t good. But the Flames are
worse. Yeah they could continue to get the bounces but all those OT wins
— there were 13 of them! out of 45! — won’t matter when they have to
keep playing 5-on-5 hockey the whole game even if it goes to overtime.
Can they win? Sure. Again, the Canucks are bad. But the odds aren’t on
their side.

ARI: Neither the Flames nor Canucks are particularly great teams this year,
which is why it’s awesome they matched up against one another: not only
for the intense rivalry, but the fact that neither team should dominate
the series means it’ll really ramp up another notch. It also gives both
teams a fair chance. Calgary’s definitely the worse possession team, but
it’s not like Vancouver is any good, either. Both have a few top end
players, but are kind of thin on defence, albeit with multiple good
goaltending options. The Flames are younger, and have been battling from
behind all season long, while the Canucks have more playoff experience
and have been there recently. The Flames are the ones
with a flair for the dramatic, though. Calgary takes a tight
overtime-going seven-game series
by the skin of their teeth.

BOOK O’ LOOB: I’ve been doubting Calgary all season, and they’ve made me look like an idiot for it, which is great. So I’m going to keep in doing it and hoping for the same result. So I’m saying Canucks in 6. Boy that Luca Sbisa seems like a real powerhouse, doesn’t he?

BYRON: This is probably the toughest series to call of the 8 given how close
the teams are.  The season series is a wash. They have nearly identical
goal differentials, goals for and goals against. They have essentially
the same amount of offense (50+ point getters, 30+ point getters, 20+
goal scorers, 10+ goal corers, etc.), two goalies each that aren’t game
breakers but can get the job done. Vancouver maybe has a slight edge on
the back end but Calgary’s back end scores more.  Vancouver also has no
real key injuries while the Flames are missing one of their best players
and best penalty killers if Bouma doesn’t return.  Vancouver also has
home-ice advantage.  So I should probably pick Vancouver but I just
can’t.  I have a good feeling about it and I think Calgary wins in
overtime in six games.

MIKE: This is going to be an extremely fun series to watch. Anyone who has
followed the Flames all season knows there’s something special about
this group in terms of cohesion, sacrifice and discipline. The Flames’
5-on-5 play is concerning, especially if they get hemmed into their own
zone against the Sedins for an extended period of time. We learned a
long time ago not to count the Flames out of anything though (see: March 7
vs. the Senators). On the other hand, Eddie Lack is REALLY good against
the Flames. He has a 3-1 starting record and a 0.951 SV% versus
Calgary. Yikes. I think that’s where the Flames ridiculous shooting
percentage might come into play. We’ll see. Flames in 7 games.

CHRISTIAN: Regardless
the result, this promises to be an unbearably exciting series. The two
teams match up well and outside of maybe the blueline, their lineups are
a wash. The Flames have been good on the road which leads me to believe
they can steal a game, or multiple, in Vancouver if need be. I usually
end up jinxing these thing, but I reluctantly say Flames in 6.

BELOCH: Flames in 6. I’m going with 6 games because, statistically, that’s the
most likely number of games needed to decide a close series. I probably
chose the Flames at least partly because I’m a homer, but there’s some
logic behind this choice too. Both the Canucks and Flames have one top
scoring line.  The Sedins are a known quantity, but Monahan and Gaudreau
are better now than data from the entire season indicates, or
even the last time they played against the Canucks (in February).  They
have the potential to be dominant in this series.  The Canucks do have
Vrbata as well, but they don’t get nearly as much offence from their
blueline as the Flames do, even without Giordano.  The edge in
goal-tending belongs to the Flames.  Lack is unusually weak against
shots from the slot, which is precisely where the Monahan line likes to
score from.  Hiller tends to let easy goals in early in games, but is
less likely to be blown out than Lack.  This is key, because the backup
situation for both teams is shaky.  Miller, Ramo, and Ortio have all
been injured recently and are not at peak form.  Finally, the Flames
best players have an edge in endurance and conditioning, both due to
youth and training at a higher altitude.  Overtime without the
possibility of salvation-by-shoot-out will not be kind to the Canucks in
this series.

TAYLOR: I
have doubted this team all year and they have made me look like a fool
so what the hell, Flames in ‎six. The Flames earn a split of games 1 and
2 in Vancouver and the pressure overcomes Ronalds Kenins and Co. and
the Flames hold serve at home. I’ve
given up trying to think of rationales for the Flames success this year
so now I am going to assume that the effigy of Andrew Cassels I offered
as a sacrifice to the hockey gods is paying off.

  • prendrefeu

    Hey Lambert, the Flames are SO BAD that they made the playoffs. They’re just an ABSOLUTELY terrible team. So bad that they went 2-2 (2-1-1 to be exact) against Vancouver this year. Yup, it’s going to be a blowout for Vancouver. They’ll be lucky to get a win in the series, maybe 2. Cause you know, PDO & luck & stuff. #longlivecorsi

  • prendrefeu

    “The Flames are made of puck luck” ” haven’t liked the flames all year” “worst magical mystery statistic team of the decade”

    Some of these closet Oilersexuals can get bent

  • prendrefeu

    Flames in SIX! Hartley and the players all know that going to a Game 7 in Vancouver will be a crapshoot, and Vancouver is lucky enough to put in a garbage goal or two in one game….

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t get why people who hate analytics would read Flamesnation. There are so many blogs that just act as cheerleading sections available, and would be a much better fit.

    • RedMan

      so, people are “analytic haters” because they want a balanced review of stats that includes the favorable ones along with corsi? and comments like these have nothing to do with it then…

      “The Flames are made of puck luck”

      “haven’t liked the flames all year”

      “worst magical mystery statistic team of the decade”

      but your “analysis” of these people is that you think they “hate analytics”???? it’s these kinds of conclusions that make one wonder about the value of all such analytics, because regardless of the stats used, they are only as good as the one drawing clonclusions, and conclusions like this, well…

      teenagers these days, they call anybody and anything that is critical of them “haters”.

      I have not seen anyone here who “hates” analytics. can you tell us who here “hates” analytics? or by analytics, do you mean CORSI, and not the dozens of other statistical and analytical options? have we reduced all analytics to just cosi?

      on the other hand, I have seem a lot of people that ARE tired of the continual negativity, condescension and name calling from the stats group, the party-pooping that has gone on this year, highlighted by a writer even refering to flames fans as idiots for wanting to get into the playoffs instead of tanking.

      EVERYONE understands that the flames, according to corsi, have been statistical outliers, but enjoyed the season anyway. Did the CORSI people hate the year? wouldn’t it be immature to say “all the statistical people hated the team this year”?

      the bottom line is that the shiny new CORSI horse was beaten to death, then beaten that much again, and then again for good measure. CORSI is one thing… there’s many things.

      this site really has been destroyed by this asinine battle and the megatrollers that log in with different accounts and argue with themselves.

      I think that people who do not want any critical comments about corsi will get there wish, as the continual name calling and arguments are wearing thin. between this and (for some) a certain unstable troll, many are backing away from this site.

      I went from having about 10 hockey sites book-marked to having just one go to site, this one. Now, with these types of comments and this continual barrage of name calling and arguing… well, it getting tougher to enjoy.

      Can we not just drop the corsi arguments and name calling, and enjoy the ride? I for one am just about done.

      • Kudos.

        It’s not that I hate analytics because “the team is running hot” and it counters there real life record. And it’s not even about having my parade rained on. .

        It’s just why should we have our parade rained on!?!?! We are back in the playoffs and the negativity and pettyNess from some does not subside.. What if the Oilers were in the playoffs this year? You think you’d have their writers playing it down and carving the team apart at all much less before game 1?

        Not on your life

      • Greg

        Uhm, Jeff, you say you are tired of the name calling, and blast off on smellofvictory, but the earlier comments of “oilersexual” and “get bent” get a free pass?

        I find those first few comments to be far more annoying and trolling and making this site “tougher to enjoy” then anything smellofvictory said.

        • RedMan

          so, it seems like their is a lot for everyone to dislike.

          so let’s stop.

          Now, I for one have no issues with Oilersexual people, to each their own, as long as they can’t adopt children and raise them to be this way!!! ok, this last sentence is purely satirical in intent… no offense to anyone intended. some of my best friends are oiler fans, seriously!

          • Greg

            Haha well played. I too have many oiler fan friends – in fact having grown up in sask I dont have the natural animosity calgarians have towards them and have at times even been a little bi… Ok, that analogy just got carried away.

            But yes, I agree. Let’s stop. 🙂

    • Rockmorton65

      Beeecause there are other things Flames related that don’t involve analytics? Some of us just like to talk hockey. This site has some great discussions.

  • Colorado Flames

    Calgary isn’t as bad as Lambert’s brand of so called negative “journalism”. This guy never has anything good to say, acts like a know it all, sarcastic in a bad way and downright insulting if you question him. I’m curious to know honestly how many Flames games he’s actually watched this year. I think he just looks at the fancy stats on paper. I think he’s the blogger in his basement Jay Feaster was talking about a few years ago.
    Anyways enough about that clown….Flames in 7! Go Flames Go!

  • Toofun

    There is probably more pressure on Vancouver than Calgary.

    Calgary has already surpassed expectations for this year. They enter the playoffs as an underdog and we expect they will play each game with all of the desperation and tenacity they have shown since the Gio injury. If they come up short at the end of it, the season will still have been a great success and the players, management and fans will be happy with all that was accomplished. The future looks bright.

    Vancouver on the other hand, needs to win this series. They run the risk of taking the Flames too lightly in the beginning and then start panicking if they get behind in the series. Any way you measure it, Vancouver’s year will not be a success if they lose in the first round of the playoffs against Calgary.

    Calgary will be loose and determined. They’ll play to win and to prove the naysayers wrong.

    Vancouver could tighten up and play not to lose.

    Edge goes to Calgary.

    Edit: I guess I should have read the next article before hitting send on this comment.

  • trox

    I think the entire panel should be giving thanks to whatever gods they may pray to that they have something to write about in April, given the fact that they all placed the Flames BOTTOM FIVE at the start of the season.
    Kudos to the oft-slammed Feaster for the moves he made that worked. Kudos to Hartley for his absurd line combinations and defense pairings. Kudos for the kid who was too small to make the NHL, the guy who was never more than a third liner on a dynastic team and the sophomore centre between them.Kudos to the defender with the big shot (who gave us the best gif of the season when he realized ‘it was in’) and the highest plus-minus in his career. Kudos to the smallish D-man who set a record for blocking shots (which only proves he can’t prevent scoring chances) and whose heart obviously grew six times bigger with an ‘A’ on his chest. Kudos to the duo of ‘tenders who shared the net all season but wouldn’t be a back up on most teams.
    Kudos to Flooby, for keeping his humour while fessing up. Kudos to Lambert for sticking to his statistical guns in the face of an army of unsustainable grit,luck, will and heart. And luck.
    These Flames, in Year Two of The Rebuild have captured the imagination of the (Flames)Nation.
    I hope they continue to bask in the favour of the hockey gods and ride the tide all the way to the championship. But if they don’t, at least we’ll be able to say, “we eliminated the Champs to make the playoffs, and turned a Round Table full of critics into believers.”
    Flame On!

  • Filth Dangle

    How about if the Flames win the series Lambert has to move on and ply his **** elsewhere. If the Flames lose in 6 or less (his “prediction”), he gets to stay and be the guy that everybody continues to gloss over and marginalize when it comes to Flames bloggers/writers/etc. Anything else and we all just agree to forget about the guy.

    That being said, I think it’s all about the Sedin line. If they poop the bed the Flames win. If they dominate the Canucks win. The Flames aren’t the type of team that are going to go out and physically beat the Sedins up, but can put enough guys in their faces to keep them frustrated.

  • I can’t believe my post was deleted. Was it because I (gently) trashed all the panel for predicting a bottom five finish this year, or because i gave a kudo to Lambert for holding onto his unsustainability of puck luck?

  • If Bieksa gets run…. I shall be at peace with the world.

    I hope for a series that rivals 94 or 04 just to engage in the chaos that the social media frenzy will become.

    Jim Hughsons Canuck angst will also be of interest to many Flames fans and could provide stimulus for some awesome GIF’s. I am still somewhat puzzled by that choice by the broadcasters… in a.. are you fn serious kinda way.

  • Greg

    How was that Flames victory for you Lambert? Not bad for a HORRIBLE team that you said would get spanked in 5 or 6 games. You realize the games are actually played on the ice and not on a spreadsheet hey?

    I would suggest you invest some time in actually watching the games before commenting on the team go-forward, your not doing yourself any favours