Because I wrote this kind of article about the Canucks and the Flames won (and it made people mad), we figured I had to do the same thing about the Ducks in round 2.
The first round match up with Vancouver was the most favourable one the Flames could hope for in the entire Western Conference. Though the Canucks were nominally a better team than Calgary in the regular season, they were definitely the weakest off all the cup contenders that made the post-season.
The Ducks are a much stiffer test. Theyir core players are younger, they have better depth and they made moves at the deadline that made them even better. Oh and that come from behind thing that the Flames made a habit of this year? The Ducks were the only team in the league to do it more often.
So, without further adieu, here’s 5 reasons the Flames will lose to the Ducks in round 2:
1. The Flames can’t win in Anaheim
If you don’t have home ice advantage in the playoffs it means you have to win in the other team’s barn in order to advance. That’s something the Flames haven’t done in Anaheim in the their last 20 tries. That’s a stretch that goes back almost to the Roman Turek days.
Obviously the failures of long past regimes doesn’t reflect on the current troupe. Still, a lot of the guys who will be in the lineup this series haven’t yet tasted victory in Anaheim either.
2. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf
Versus Vancouver the Flames had to worry about the Sedin twins. They’re still very good at 34 years old, but they aren’t Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Perry has been one of the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL over the last 5 seasons, while Getzlaf has operated at point per game pace over the same period. The duo is one of the toughest to play against at even strength and they can kill you on the PP as well.
That long dry spell we talked about above? Part of the reason it’s been so hard to win in Anaheim for so long is Calgary has had a lot of trouble containing Perry and Getzlaf when they don’t have last change.
3. Excellent Forward Depth
Calgary’s depth players generally played as well or better than their counter parts in round 1. That’s going to be a much tall order in round versus the likes of Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and the sneaky good Rickard Rakell facing them.
The Ducks also have a strong blueline, with Cam Fowler, Francois Beachemin, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatenen and Simon Despres (who they got for Ben LoveJoy at the deadline!) rounding out most of the minutes. Look out for the relatively unheralded Vantenan, who led their blueline in scoring during the regular season with 37 points and had 5 points in their sweep over the Jets.
It was relatively easy to get Calgary’s top line away from trouble vs the Canucks. That is going to be a much tougher task for Bob Hartley this time around.
4. The Ducks are even clutch-ier than the Flames
Anaheim won the West with just a +10 goal differential. For context, the Rangers won the East with a +60 goal differential. So how did they do that? A ton of one-goal victories and come from behind wins. No team in the league had a better winning percentage in 1-goal duels this year than the Ducks (80.5%) and no team won more when trailing heading into the third period (12 times). Not to mention three more times in the first round against the Jets.
If you consider clutch play in close games to be a skill or talent, then the Flames are the apprentice and the Ducks are the master.
5. Tim Jackman’s Revenge!
Remember Tim Jackman? The loveable everyman who was willing to hit, fight and score (well…not score so much). Before the Flames had Bouma and Ferland, there was Jackman. Perhaps miscast as a heavyweight, he was really just an affable checker willing to do just about anything to stay in the lineup.
Jackman gave the Flames a few serviceable years on the fourth line. He even scored a career high 10 goals and 23 points in 2010-11. That’s world class production from the bottom of the rotation!
That was his high water mark, however. Calgary traded Jackman to the Ducks for a sixth round pick in 2013-14 when it was clear Hartley didn’t have much use for him. It kinda seemed like his career was over after multiple healthy scratches, but Jackman has nevertheless stuck around the Ducks lineup, appearing in 55 games this season.
The Flames did Jackman a solid by moving him a couple of years ago and I’m sure there’s no bad blood between the two parties at all. But for the purposes of this article let’s say he still carries a grudge and is out for blood!