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FlamesNation Roundtable: First round predictions

The playoffs have begun! To provide their insights on the upcoming Calgary Flames series with the Colorado Avalanche, we have assembled the latest edition of the FlamesNation Roundtable.

The Flames will beat the Avalanche if…

Ari: They can keep doing what they did over the first 79 games of the regular season. (We all know the last three meant nothing.) The Flames rarely dropped multiple games in a row, they were one of the NHL’s highest scoring teams, and their goaltending was just good enough to get them a win more often than not. If their goaltending can rise to the challenge, too – think early season David Rittich – then they might have the power to steamroll through other teams. It’s an “everything has to go right” scenario, but that’s kind of what they’ve been dealing with all year.

Ryan: If the Flames can keep their lines rolling and not let the Avalanche dictate the series’ pace or matchups, they’ll be in good shape. They’re deeper everywhere but in net, so they should be able to impose their will on the proceedings.

Mike: They get competent goaltending and everyone shows up to play? This should be a five, six game series at best. A lot of this just comes down to suppressing the one and a half lines the Avalanche can roll and goaltending on the Flames’ part.

Christian R: The Flames will beat the Avalanche if they get adequate goaltending and aren’t stomped on by Lady Luck. We all remember the 2017 playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks, and how a few bounces in the Flames’ way could’ve changed the complexion of the entire series. Heck, there’s an argument the Flames were a bounce in each game away from being the sweepers instead of the ones swept. NHL playoff history is littered with series steals by goaltenders, and nothing precludes the Flames from falling victim to Philipp Grubauer or Semyon Varlamov. Without a herculean effort from Avalanche goaltending, the Flames will simply need Smith or Rittich to not give the series away.

Bill: They stick to what they’ve been doing all year. The Flames are playing a team with weaknesses they can exploit (read: scoring depth). Limiting Colorado’s offence is more tangible than hoping for good goaltending. The Flames will have to score as well, and running into a hot goalie will be nightmarish, but they have to focus on limiting chances and keeping the Avalanche’s scoring threats at bay.

Karim: Nothing absolutely ridiculous happens. I honestly can’t see the Flames losing a seven-game series to the Avalanche, provided they remain relatively healthy and Smith/Rittich are even just average in net. With Backlund matching up against MacKinnon four of seven times (if it goes the distance), I like the Flames’ chances of moving on to round two.

The Flames will lose to the Avalanche if…

Ari: The scoring dries up and/or the goaltending implodes. The latter is probably more likely than the former, but you never quite know with the former – the Flames should be deep enough to be able to handle it (and/or any potential top line struggles), but all it takes is things to go wrong for a couple of games and suddenly they’re done. And if they do lose, it makes the offseason’s need to find a starting goalie all the more imperative – imagine wasting this roster because you kicked the can down the road too many times?

Ryan: If they let goaltending dictate the series. Philipp Grubauer was lights out to end the regular season and is streets ahead of Mike Smith right now. If the Flames fail to get to the net for tips or screens and fail to make Grubauer’s life difficult, it’ll be a long, painful series.

Mike: If goaltending and/or other things implode. Maybe the Flames will suddenly forget how to score again. Down the stretch health and dry spells have hit elements of their top six, with the bottom six taking up some of the workload. Let’s hope all ranks of the forward group are clicking and the goaltending doesn’t lay several eggs.

Christian R: The inverse answer to question one. The Flames lose to the Avalanche if their goaltending falls apart, or if Lady Luck returns for some sadism. If either Mike Smith or David Rittich fall apart, the Flames will have a tough time outscoring their struggles over the course of a seven-game series. In the same vein, if their shooting luck evaporates, or everything falls the Avalanche’s way, then too they will have a tough time overcoming it. The only caveat is this: the 2018-19 rendition of the Calgary Flames is immensely more talented than the 2016-17 version, and thus better suited to overcome bad luck. Even so, that’s the biggest ship sinker I can see.

Bill: They let in goals with defensive breakdowns. It’s one of those things that’s been a storyline throughout the season: they’ve lost games due to sloppy goals against, despite handily outplaying their opponent. Colorado is definitely a team that can capitalize on this, and the Flames can’t let the Avs run away with games.

Karim: There’s no doubt Calgary has the edge on forwards, defense, depth, home ice, etc., but the wild card here is goaltending. Grubauer has been excellent lately and the Flames didn’t face him in any of their meetings with Colorado during the season. I don’t think the Flames will lose, but if they do, it’ll be almost entirely because of Grubauer outplaying the Flames’ tandem in net.

What is your prediction for the series result?

Ari: I’m going to be optimistic in predicting a quick series victory for the Flames. I just think they have too much going for them.

Ryan: Flames in six.

Mike: Flames win in five or six games; thank u, next.

Christian R: At the end of the day, two-thirds of the Avs’ vaunted top line are fresh out of the infirmary (Rantanen, Landeskog) and the good money is on their health being questionable. The Flames have been playing good hockey coming into the playoffs, save two meaningless games to finish the year, and are the all around better team in every capacity. They should win handily, in five games. Have to allow for that one wonky loss.

Bill: Five games. Colorado might have goaltending over the Flames, but I think the Flames have the firing power to supplement the disparities.

Karim: I think the Avalanche can steal one or two games from the Flames, but I don’t see them putting up a huge fight. Neither Rantanen or Landeskog are fully healthy, and while the Flames are also battling injuries to Monahan and Bennett (we think), that doesn’t hurt the Flames as much as losing Rantanen and Landeskog does for the Avs. My prediction is that the Flames win this one handily, 4-1.

  • Skylardog

    As you look at the Avs record down the stretch and the 8-1-2 record in their last 11, one might think they have played better or tightened up defensively to have that success to end the season and earn a playoff spot.

    Nope.

    This is all on goaltending.

    Shots on goal are down for them, by almost 3 per game (as would be expected with Rantenen and Landeskog out), but they are also giving up more shots against by over 2 per game. This run has been ALL about their goalies. Frankly they are not playing well despite the record.

    And which team leads the league in shots against since March 16? You guessed it, our Flames. And at 7th in generating shots, despite taking nights off to rest guys and having little to play for in some of those games, we are still a machine at pushing play and limiting chances against. We come in playing well, despite what it feel like at times.

    SO PUMPED FOR THIS, starting to shake from withdrawal. I need my Flames game fix….

    GFG

    • Cfan in Van

      Kent (The Athletic – Pay Wall) has a really good summary of the match up, based on regular season results. He details the segment since the trade deadline, and everything comes up Flames, aside from goal tending. He also concludes that the addition of Derek Brassard is a detriment to their 3rd line, and that that line will be fodder for our 3rd or 4th. Very pumped to get this thing started. I needed some reassuring, after so many underdogs came out on top last night.

      • FlamesFanFromMI

        Why is it that we play good in the past to get into playoffs and lose in first round we come with an excuse of “ oh they were playing playoff hockey even before playoffs started and it’s very tiring “ yet the opponent is playing well we say they are red hot. Never figured it out. If someone said puck luck in front of me I will punch them in the nose. That reminds me Derek wills says that a lot but I want to punch him in the nose anyway.

  • 31 Thoughts With Morgan Freeman

    About to go under the knife. I’ll have a nice surgical scar to commemorate the start of the Flames magical 2019 Stanley cup run. Hoping I’ll be lucid enough to watch the game tonight. At least I’ll have a few weeks of bed rest to watch playoff hockey. Go Flames Go!

  • Raffydog

    I know I’ll get attacked mercilessly for this, but I’ve been reading alot of articles this week and am wondering something. Most articles I’ve read have mentioned this, and some have been specifically about it, but I’m curious where Tkachuk gets this moniker of being a big game performer. Dont freak out, I’m not trying to hurt anybodys feelings, but I question how he gets that label. I love Tkachuk, he is my favorite type of player, I’ve always loved agitators, and hes one of the best, but to label him as a big game performer seems a bit of a stretch. His first foray in the playoffs was pretty unremarkable, I’m to lazy to look but I dont believe he recorded a single point. Performing in the playoffs is what makes a big game performer, and maybe this year he will, but it seems a little early to give him that label.

  • Rudy27

    Everywhere you read, the consensus appears to be the Flames goal tending is the weak point. I’m looking for Rittich to be what we saw much of the season, and Smith to rise to the hero status like the first part of last year (before he got injured). I’d love to see goal tending become our surprise strength through to the cup!

    • Pancakes

      I agree Rudy27, our goalies CAN play great hockey and they have a chance to become real x-factors in this series. Especially seeing as many articles push goaltending as our weakness. Step up ye two gentlemen of the nets!

  • Off the wall

    The refs sure put the whistles away, in the games I caught last night. I couldn’t believe how physical the Jets game was. Same with the SAN Jose game.

    I hope they both go 7, beating the crap outta each other.

    I’m wondering how physical we will be tonight? I’m getting excited and nervous at the same time!

    Did anyone pick any of the Flames goalies in the playoff pool?
    I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t. I have no idea who’s going to play the majority of the games.

    I’m just hoping we get a decisive WIN tonight! Go Flames 🔥

    • Cfan in Van

      I can see this being one of the less physical series. Neither team fits that style, but you never know. I’d love the boys to come out with a huge chip on their shoulder.

    • FlamesFanFromMI

      Shame on you OTW. I would at least pick Rittich. I really want flames to win but Smith gives me jitters and want me pee my pants I get so scared when he is flapping around I stop looking at the play and start looking at the goal light and start praying
      Trash all you want I just get really scared watching him

  • fumanchu1968

    I’d like it to be a quick sweep, but I think Calgary is going to be in for more of a fight than we all think. Flames in 6 or 7, in a nail-biting white-knuckler. Hang onto your hats follow Flames freaks!!!!