38TJ Brodie
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Flames vs. Avalanche first round media predictions round-up

The Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche begin their first round playoff series on Thursday night. The hockey world has buzzed in anticipation for several days, with several outlets making series predictions. We’ve collected the predictions for the Flames’ series for ease of reference.


The NHL’s rights-holders put together a panel of 22 of their personalities to make picks for every series. Every single panelist went with the Flames: one in four games, 12 in five, seven in six, and two in seven.

As a bonus, nine of their panelists picked the Flames to advance to the Stanley Cup Final – with David Amber picking them to win the Cup.


Travis Yost busts out his analytics toolbox for a breakdown of the series. He shares many of the fanbase’s concerns regarding netminding:

The one thing that keeps me from picking Calgary in a short series is the unknown goaltending variable. For whatever reason – I assume it’s financially motivated but it could be just stubbornness at this point – the Flames have been feeding goaltender starts. This despite the fact Smith’s numbers have been cratering for years, with his 89.8 save percentage this year being a career low.

That said, he picks the Flames in six games.

The Sporting News

The Sporting News put together a panel of eight writers to choose each series. Seven of them chose the Flames to win – two in five games and five in six games – while the other chose Colorado in seven games.

The Hockey News

The Hockey News has a byline-free preview, but it’s pretty slanted towards the Flames – with the only real shimmer of light being Colorado’s goaltending edge over Calgary.

There may have been no worse draw for the Colorado Avalanche, who enter the first round on somewhat of a hot streak as winners of eight of their past 11 contests, than the Western Conference best Calgary Flames. When the former Northwest Division foes have met this season, the outings have been decidedly one-sided, with the Avalanche trying but failing to slow down a Flames offense that was among the league’s best this season.

They chose the Flames in six games.


Greg Wyshynski likes the Flames in six games.

Grubauer keeps the Avalanche in it, but the Flames’ offense proves too much to handle. But fret not for the Avs: Cale Makar, the No. 1 drafted prospect in hockey, and Ottawa’s lottery pick mean they’re going to be loaded next season (and beyond).

Los Angeles Times

Hockey Hall of Fame honoree Helene Elliott is high on the Flames as well, but notes that the Flames goaltending is a concern. She takes the Flames in five games.

The Athletic

Behind their paywall, the Athletic broke down the first round in a couple different ways. Not to give away too much of their stuff for free, all we’ll say is that they like the Flames to varying degrees.

The 52-member mega-panel liked the Flames, while Dom Luszczyszyn’s detailed statistical breakdown also leaned Flames.

  • Raffydog

    So I’ll try not to be to negative but these are my concerns heading into this series.
    MacKinnon – Arguably the best player on both teams. Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but I have a horrible feeling in my gut that we are going to see MacKinnon’s coming out party.
    Calgary’s top line – The Flames top line has struggled since the all star break, and have shown no signs of turning things around. If it was only a couple weeks of struggles I wouldn’t be to worried, but this has been going on for so long now that you have to wonder about injuries. They cant be that bad all of a sudden, can they?
    Goalies – By far the biggest concern. We all saw what crappy goaltending can do in the playoffs against the Ducks, and I have no confidence in either Flames goalie. Even if the Flames somehow make it to the finals, it wont be on the back of strong goaltending.
    Special Teams – The Avs have a really good powerplay, the Flames do not.
    So those are just my concerns, and I know there are plenty of variables in the Flames favor as well. Not saying they will lose, just saying is all.

    • withachance

      1. MacKinnon has been readily handled by the top two lines of this team. Obviously cant keep him from the scoresheet, but he hasnt dominated the Flames in the past two seasons in any games. 0 evidence to suggest he’ll have a “coming out party”. Also Gaudreau is a better player.

      2. Calgary’s top line has indeed struggled, but so has the Av’s top line, so has the Boston top line, so has the Toronto top line. “No signs of turning things around” JG and Monny both had some breakout games down the stretch, Lindholm has been consistent and brings much more than points. 0 relative evidence backing this.

      3. Goalies are the biggest concern. If the Flames goalies had a 0.700 SV% and they made it to the finals, I couldnt give a rat’s ass. Also Grubauer was pulled in 2 games last year for a dominant team and rode the pine. I think the Av’s arent rosy in goaltending either.

      4. Special teams – Flames dont give up much penalties in the first place. Best goalscoring PK. Also, the Flames have a really good team, the Avs do not.

      Eventually no one will believe the boy who cries wolf. You say you’re a Flames fan, but your previous ~50 posts or so dont suggest that. Maybe that’s just the homer in me. How about you make a post about “the variables that favor the Flames as well”

      • Raffydog

        Didnt say they were going to lose, just listing my personal concerns going in. Sorry, didnt realize I was going to hurt your feelings that bad. But I must’ve hit it pretty close to the mark to get you so riled up.

        • withachance

          Lol ok bud – pretty sure you did say that in literally all of your posts that they were going to lose 🙂

          Sorry, didnt realize all this success was going to hurt your self esteem and go on a trolling bender. Must’ve hurt real bad to watch this team succeed.

          Now expecting a no reply to this comment. Cheers man have a good day 🙂

        • withachance

          Oh you can be a pessimist, but when you go out of your way to be an eternal pessimist, then something’s wrong.

          It’s like saying you’re super fond of sunny weather, but everytime the sun comes out you’re complaining about sunburns and skin cancer.

        • withachance

          consistently only points out the negatives, makes big sweeping declarations of a team’s downfall with biased statistics, then turns around and says he’s a big fan. Yeah not quite believable

    • Flameon13

      Mackinnon may also be without Rantanen for the first part couple games or so of this series without enough depth to fill this void. The 3M line will have an easier job just shutting down a line with Landeskog and Mackinnon on it than Landeskog, Mackinnon and Rantanen. Not only that but our defense core is leaps and bounds above Colorados. Tyson Barrie is a great offensive defenseman but that’s it he’s just good offensively. They don’t have anyone to stop our top lines fire power and if our top line’s struggles persist into the playoffs this is probably the best team they could’ve faced to get them out of the scoring slump and with rantanen gone and the depth that we have the first couple games can be them finding their magic before the tougher competition. They may have better goaltending than we do but without a solid defense core in front of them there are only so many games a goalie can steal for them. I think our first line will find their scoring touch this series, chucky will get under Mackinnon’s nerves and make Landeskog take bad penalties, and the flames will power past Colorado in 5 games. *Knock on wood*

    • Bawcos

      I won’t cheers you nor trash you. You are a pessimist. That’s fine. I thought the same when describing this team to Toronto hockey fans back in Sept/ Oct. But this team has proven they are good. Not perfect, but good. As of right now, this team has given – with all virables
      Can’t cheers you, but also can’t trash you. You bring up fair points. If you’re not worried about the same things, you are either very naive or extremely naive. Ultimately I think the Flames depth overcomes these issues – or I at least hope so.

    • oilcanboyd

      First line will be immobilized by Backlund’s line in games against Calgary.
      Goalies: You gotta be kidding! Elliott was a total disaster!
      Flames led the NHL in shorthanded goals and by a wide margin. This makes Aves powerplay think twice.
      Four line depth: Flames Advantage. Watch for Derek Ryan to have a major impact. Took a while for Ryan to get accustomed to the change of scenery but he has dominated in the past 6-8 weeks.
      Anyhow, you must be crying in your milk because your oilers dropped to 8th pick in the Draft Lottery!

      • Albertabeef

        Yes Flames led the league in shorties but 2 in not a large margin. Our Pk ranks 21st in the league and 4 worst of all playoff teams in ppga. I think these guys looking for shorties may be hurting our PK. I am way more worried about our PK than our PP.

  • TKO

    people like to point out that the Avsare “rolling into the playoffs on a hot streak”
    tha is one way to see it, but another way to see it would be
    “the Avs spent a tremendous amount of energy just getting to the playoffs, while the Flames coasted a bit and rested some players”

  • oilcanboyd

    Goal tending: Check Grant Fuhr’s statistics with the Oilers. Did NOT have even ONE season with a SV% at 0.900 or over! Grubaur has good regular season stats, but…
    Flames can outscore the Aves with a Depth of 4 lines. Watch out for players like Derek Ryan to make an impact in the playoffs! And our Awesome Penalty Kill with the ShortHanded goals.

  • buts

    Flames in 7 after Rittich becomes the starter in game 3. Then all the way to the cup on Rittich’s back. Ya baby. Seriously you have to give Smith the chance to show what he can do. If he falters I have confidence in BP making the moves needed.