5 Reasons Why The Flames Will Beat The Ducks

The Calgary Flames face a familiar foe as they move onto the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the form of the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks are the Pacific Division champions, and the one team among the entire division that the Flames didn’t beat in the season series.

The Ducks are riding high, having swept the Winnipeg Jets and shattering the hearts of Canadian hockey fans. The Flames have a chance to avenge their Western Canadian brethren and move on to the conference finals, a round the club has only ever been to four times in its history.

Here are five reasons why the Flames will win this series.

They Survived The Top Line Going AWOL

Let’s be blunt here: whether it’s because Vancouver really focused in on them or the likelihood that at least one of them was injured or sick to begin the series, Calgary’s top line was largely a non-factor in the series. Heck, they didn’t create a whole lot until the very last game.

But hey, despite all that, the Flames won three games because of their depth. Presuming the Ducks focus in on the Monahan line like Vancouver did, the Flames probably have confidence that they’ll have a shot to win because their depth guys can deliver in the clutch.

They Relish The Physical Game

The Ducks blew through a four-game sweep of the Jets. They threw their bodies around a fair bit, but the series was a relative sprint. Calgary, on the other hand, did their best to turn their series with Vancouver into a trench war, succeeded, and won a protracted series.

Calgary knows that they can survive a war. Can Anaheim?

The Match-Up Game

Well, Calgary won three games at their own arena. How? Well, Bob Hartley is a pretty good coach, and he and his staff observed what worked and what didn’t in terms of match-ups in Vancouver and made adjustments.

As a result? The Flames figured out which players were able to neutralize the Canucks’ dangerous players – the Sedins – and they won enough games at home to move on. Hartley’s done it once, so there’s no reason he can’t do it agan.

Granted, the match-ups are gonna be a lot tougher against Anaheim than against Vancouver.

Rest Versus Momentum

What do you wanna do when you’re winning all the time and everything’s going your way? You probably want to keep the good times rolling. Thanks to the NHL’s playoff schedule, by the time the Ducks are back in action on April 30, they’ll have been idle for 8 days.

That’s a long time to sit.

The Flames? They’ll have sat for five days with ice packs on them after putting the Canucks through a physical hellscape. The rest-versus-momentum scale probably hurts the Ducks more than it hurts the Flames.

There’s No Pressure

The Ducks led the Pacific Division for the majority of the season and captured the pennant. It’s the third consecutive season they’ve won the Pacific. They lost in the first round in 2013 and the second round in 2014. But they have some great players on their team, in their prime, and should be expected to win something at some point, right?

Right?

Calgary? Nobody thought they would be here. If they lose, they lose to the division-winning team and end up miles ahead of where anybody thought they’d be. But if they win? If they win, they will have leaped from finishing fourth-from-last in the NHL to finishing in the NHL’s final four.

The pressure is squarely on Anaheim, and the Flames are playing with house money.

  • beloch

    The Flames are in a pretty unique situation. They’ve wildly exceeded all expectations this season, and they’ve done it primarily by virtue of their youngest players. This team isn’t a stacked cup-hunting team with a rapidly approaching expiration date. Their core is just going to get better and better for several years to come. They have enough cap space to retain all the players they want to and add some nice pieces too.

    It’s next season that’s going to be tough, when the expectations for the Flames will include both making the playoffs and getting past the first round. For now, it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The Flames could be swept just like the Jets (who are by no means a bad team) and I’d still be ready to stand up and cheer what this team has done.

    That being said, speed will be the Flames’ biggest asset in this series simply because it’s almost all they’ve got on the Ducks, who are big, skilled, but not as fast as the Flames. The Flames will need to forecheck and backcheck with abandon in order to force the Ducks to rush their plays and, hopefully, make mistakes. Ferland is going to have to get under the Ducks skin to draw some heat away from the other stars of the team, who will no doubt be the target of questionable physical plays if the Ducks have their way. The Stajan line is going to have to shut down their match-ups and the Monahan line needs to pick up where they left off in game six against the ‘nucks. Finally, Hiller and Ramo are going to have to steal some games.

    This is going to be some good hockey!

  • Scary Gary

    I am a bit concerned with Hiller’s 0.889 save% vs the Ducks this year as opposed to Ramo’s 0.906 save% (sample size and such). I thought Ramo looked fairly solid in his relief but I understand why they went back to Hiller. That being said I suspect he’ll be on a short leash.

  • Scary Gary

    Anaheim is bigger/heavier and will likely try to play the physical card on the Flames. Their top 3 lines are excellent, with the clear edge to ANA.

    The Flames are faster and have younger legs in key positions. The Flames have the edge in goaltending, Top 4 defence, and coaching/strategy. Intangibles are also on the Flames side…no pressure, determination, never quit and find-a-way.

    The Flames had a much better GF/GA goal differential than Anaheim…they won more 1 goal games than anyone.

    The breaking point will likely come when Anaheim players decide drinking margueritas on the beach is preferable to getting pounded in a cage without additional pay, while the Flames will continue to gain momentum and feed off the local fan support and national coverage.

  • Scary Gary

    EDIT to last post: “The Flames had a much better GF/GA goal differential than Anaheim…BUT THE DUCKS won more 1 goal games than anyone AND ARE USED TO PLAYING CLOSE GAMES.”

  • Scary Gary

    Flames take the Ducks in 6-7 games. I’m going to eat so much Duck over this series. Duck for breakfast, Duck for lunch and Duck for dinner. I’m taking all my aggression out on those delicious meals!

  • MonsterPod

    This series terrifies me, and I know it shouldn’t because it’s all gravy, but the Ducks are huge and now it’s the playoffs.

    Refs put their whistles away more and I worry about Johnny, Sam, Jiri, and even our relatively small D — Wideman, Brodie, & Russell are not big dudes.

    The Ducks are a lot like the Kings, and the Flames are gonna have to skate skate skate.

    We beat the Kings in game 81, but we also got beat up. We all suspect our top line is still feeling the effects.

    Getzlaf, Perry, and Maroon. Is there a bigger line in hockey? Even a fourth line?

    But the boys are gonna give it everything they’ve got, and I love ’em for it.

    GFG, but please, no concussions for Johnny or Sam (or anyone).

  • RKD

    The Ducks sweep of the Jets is somewhat misleading. The Jets had the lead in a few if not all of those games then squandered them. For such a highly power offensive team, they would spot the Jets a lead. The rust factor used to be an issue and a lot of teams with long layoffs had a hard time going. It seems recently though rust hasn’t been affecting a lot of teams they seem ready to go. The Flames blueliners and guys like Monahan and Ferland will benefit from the rest.

  • RKD

    Canucks fan here. That series loss hurt, but despite that, I still want to see the ducks go down. If johnny does what he does and avoids the big guys, he’ll be a factor. I know I was worried whenever he had the puck in round 1. Win with speed.

  • RedMan

    Winnipeg tried to play the Ducks type of game and in hindsight, they were probably destined to lose in 6. Sadly it happened in 4.

    Calgary will not seek to play Anaheim’s game and only if they are successful at countering the Ducks play with uptempo hockey, they have a pretty good chance. I really think Calgary can win this series If they can convince Anaheim to play riverboat hockey. If not, well…. god I wish we had Giordano….. and Gelinas. 😉

    GFG