Actual, honest-to-goodness, hockey games that count are back tomorrow night when the Calgary Flames open up their best-of-five qualifying round series with the Winnipeg Jets. To commemorate this occasion, we’ve convened our new-look roundtable! (And we’re taking this opportunity to introduce a few of our newer faces.)
Mike Gould (@miketgould) first started watching the Calgary Flames in 2008, or halfway through Miikka Kiprusoff’s tenure with the team; now, approximately 25 goalies and five playoff series losses later, he has arrived as FlamesNation. Mike likes writing about analytics, hockey operations, uniform and logo design, and weird hockey trivia that only he cares about.
It seems Calgary’s offense doesn’t mix effectively with playoff hockey. Going up against Connor Hellebuyck, the best goalie in hockey this season, isn’t going to help with that. Calgary has big advantages on defense and in the bottom-six, but their inconsistent goaltending tandem of Cam Talbot and David Rittich is potentially ripe for exploitation by the likes of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler. Make no mistake, Calgary has a ton of offensive talent, but it remains to be seen whether they show up. If Gaudreau and Tkachuk are on their game, this series could easily go the other way. Jets in 4.
PJ Parmar is a second year business student at the University of Western Ontario, majoring in finance. He’s a long-time Flames fan and is excited to be writing for his favourite Flames site.
I think the Flames – Jets matchup has the potential to be a close one should the Flames achieve decent goaltending and the top trio of Gaudeau, Monahan, and Lindholm show up to perform. The Calgary Flames are far superior when it comes to special teams, 11th vs 15th on the powerplay and 8th vs 22nd on the penalty kill, however succumb to the Winnipeg Jets when comparing even strength stats. Winnipeg having a Vezina worthy goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck and their ability to get consistent goal scoring makes up for their paltry d-core, giving them the edge in this play-in round. Jets in 4
Craig Petter (@Cpett_19) is a Calgary-born, Edmonton-raised, Ottawa-residing journalism student who took more flack as a kid for being a Flames fan than any of you could possibly fathom.
Each team boasts a turbocharged top-six, and the Flames’ more reliable and robust blueline could very well offset the Vezina-caliber goaltending Connor Hellebuyck brings to the party. It should be an airtight series, but Calgary has a whole lot more to prove after last spring’s debacle and that hunger alone may swing the odds for them. Flames in 5.
Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) has watched the Flames since the late ’80s when he was a wee lad. He’s FlamesNation’s managing editor and has covered the team professionally (if you can call it that) for a decade. He’s a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
The Flames are a tough team to believe in this season and dating back to them clinching a playoff spot on St. Patrick’s Day in 2019, they’re 42-31-7 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. In other words, when games have counted over the past year and change they’ve gone a hair over .500. Sure, there are other factors at play, but ultimately you are what you repeatedly do. The Flames have been Charlie Brown whiffing at kicking the football for the better part of this decade and eventually they’ll either start connecting with that pigskin or they’re going to have to make adjustments. The Jets are fast, good and well-coached. Their defensive game isn’t amazing, but that’s why they have a goaltender. Jets in 5.
Mike Wilson (@BabyIginla) is a Calgary product, a University of Calgary graduate, and a hockey podcaster best known for the In The Dome podcast.
The Jets have been a bit of a mess defensively this season. They boast the worst expected goals for percentage in the league and no team gave up more high danger chances over the year. They relied solely on world class net minding from Connor Hellebuyck. If the new 3M line can continue to be a dominant play driving trio and the top line can find a way to make Hellebuyck look human, that should give the Flames a slight edge against an extremely poor defensive team in the Jets. Finishing on Hellebucyk will be no small task and the Flames d corps will need to contain the speed and skill of the Jets top 6, specifically off the rush, but the Flames should have the advantage overall. Flames in 4