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It’s official: Flames to face Avalanche in first round of the playoffs

As the Flames battled to secure top spot in their division and conference, there was another battle far below them: one for the last wild card spot. It was one that, with just days to go in the regular season, the Avalanche finally won out.

Now, thanks to the Stars’ Game 82 win, they are locked into the second wild card spot: and that means their first round opponent will be the Flames.

We’ll have more on how the two teams stack up against one another after the regular season ends, but for now, here’s a quick head-to-head of their 81 games this season (most of which have been meaningful for the Flames, all of which have mattered for the Avalanche).

For the specific Calgary vs. Colorado matchup this season, be sure to revisit Pat Steinberg’s article.

Team Record Goals for Goals against Goal differential PP% PK%
Flames 50-24-7 288 224 +64 19.5 80.0
Avalanche 38-29-14 258 241 +17 22.2 78.5

Naturally, the Flames are better than the Avs overall, but what really stands out in Colorado’s record is 14 overtime losses. The Coyotes – the last team in the West to be eliminated from the playoffs – had a record of 39-34-8, so they weren’t necessarily much better (if at all, really), but the Avs did make it to the playoffs in part because they could lose after regulation. The problem for them? That won’t mean a thing in the postseason.

They do appear to have the superior powerplay, though, so that will have to be something to watch out for. On the flip side, their penalty kill is worse than the Flames’. Both are top-heavy teams, which will likely be a major part in determining how each powerplay goes, but the Flames do have superior depth.

And via Natural Stat Trick, at 5v5:

Team CF% CF/60 CA/60 HDCF% GF% SH% SV% PDO
Flames 53.81 60.74 52.14 52.61 55.86 9.14 91.82 1.010
Avalanche 49.86 57.47 57.80 49.89 50.83 7.61 92.38 1.000

The Flames are better at controlling the puck overall, but the teams’ percentages could be something to watch out for.

The playoffs are a different beast entirely because of how quickly they can be so make-or-break, so one has to wonder: will the Flames’ shooting percentage hold up? And will the Avs’ goaltending?

In all likelihood, Colorado’s best chance at winning this series will fall on their netminders: their one major advantage. Philipp Grubauer’s .917 save percentage is easily the best among all four goalies in this series. David Rittich’s .911 SV% is the second best, followed by Semyon Varlamov’s .910%, and finally, Mike Smith’s .898%.