For the first time in 31 years, the Calgary Flames will meet the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs. Moreover, for just the second time since their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, the Flames have made it past the opening round of the playoffs.
It’s an exciting time! It’s playoff Battle of Alberta time! To commemorate this, we have convened our writer’s roundtable once more.
What makes you confident that the Flames can beat Edmonton in Round Two?
Mike: Theoretically, the Flames have a much stronger team than the Oilers. We have yet to see the likes of Matthew Tkachuk, Tyler Toffoli, Calle Jarnkrok, and Blake Coleman produce to their peak extents in these playoffs, and it’s hard to imagine them going up against a better goaltending performance than the one they faced in the first round. Mike Smith can be very good at his best, but he’s also capable of completely falling apart in high-pressure situations. If the Flames are as relentless on the attack as they were against Dallas, it’s easy to imagine this series being over in five or even four games.
Paige: I get the feeling the scouting report on Mike Smith is a lot more valuable than the scouting report and previous experience Smith has with the Flames shooters.
PJ: In my opinion, goalies are the most crucial component for any team looking to make a lengthy playoff run. The Flames just beat out Jake Oettinger, who arguably pulled off one of the most incredible playoff performances by any goalie in NHL history. The 23-year-old Oettinger nearly stole a series win for a very mediocre Dallas team, and while Mike Smith had a stingy .938 save percentage in round one, I don’t think he gives the Flame as much trouble. In summary, my value for goaltending in the playoffs has led me to believe that the Dallas Stars posed a greater threat to the Calgary Flames than the potential that Edmonton Oilers have.
Ryan: The Oilers have a Connor McDavid (and a Leon Draisaitl and a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins…) but I think the Flames’ depth across their lineup is going to be superior to the Oilers’ depth when it comes down to it. The Oilers’ blueline group also isn’t great once you get beyond Darnell Nurse.
Shane: During the regular season Calgary was consistently the better team in all four head-to-head match-ups. Edmonton won a few games with some power play success and some lack of depth scoring but also let in 9 against in one game. The Oilers are better at shutting down defensively now, but Calgary is more experienced in that style of hockey. That’s why I like Calgary’s chances.
What makes you nervous about the Flames against Edmonton in Round Two?
Mike: But… it’s the playoffs. It’s pretty difficult to make definitive proclamations about small samples of hockey. Given how they played, the Flames probably should’ve gotten past Dallas in five games. They ended up being within one goal of being eliminated. Connor McDavid could score 20 points in the series. Mike Smith could somehow outdo Jake Oettinger and post three shutouts in a four-game sweep. Anything could happen. But the Oilers also aren’t Dallas, a team that has a long and well-documented history of stifling its opponents. This will probably be a high-powered series featuring both teams operating at their maximum offensive potential. McDavid could dominate, Gaudreau could get hurt, but the Flames still have a lot going for them in this one (unless they get goalied).
Paige: Offence running dry, further injuries and getting too caught up in proving a point in the moment resulting in bad penalties.
PJ: The Flames poor power play in the post-season thus far makes me quite nervous. This was not too concerning against the Stars, considering that they also struggled heavily on the man advantage. The Oilers, on the other hand, have the second hottest power play in the post-season, clipping at 36.8%. The fact that Edmonton has been just as good on the penalty kill as Calgary (87.5% vs 91.7% respectively) puts even more pressure on the need for the latter team to capitalize on the power play.
Ryan: The Oilers were out-played by the Flames twice during the regular season and won anyway because their power play is deadly and the Flames got into penalty trouble.
Shane: I think I speak for most people when I say it’s the big two: McDavid and Draisaitl. McDavid is well known for what he can accomplish on the scoresheet, but he’s trying to get it done in the postseason. It’s only the second time this team has also been in the second round and they are hungry for it too. Motivated McDavid is hard to stop.
What’s your predicted Round Two series outcome and why?
Mike: Flames in six. I’ll give McDavid and Smith a couple games, but the Flames are such a dominant team at five-on-five and they’re also a way tougher team on paper, which is a quality that should really matter in a battle like this.
Paige: Flames in five. I think this has the potential to be a shorter series and the quicker they get it done, the less off-ice drama they have to face.
PJ: Flames in seven. When it comes to playoff match-ups between rival teams, I think being at home plays a much bigger role than usual. My bet is that the home team wins each game in the Battle of Alberta, with Calgary’s home ice advantage helping them in gaining an edge over Edmonton.
Ryan: Flames in seven. I think home ice will make a bigger difference than we all think, particularly when a veteran head coach in Darryl Sutter has the ability to line-match against playoff rookie in Jay Woodcroft.
Shane: Flames in six. I think overall Calgary plays a stronger possessive game and they won’t change the way they play even if they get down 2 or 3 goals. The Flames are also due for about 13+ goals Oettinger robbed them of and maybe can get a few extra on old teammate Mike Smith. With McDavid involved the potential for anyone to be wrong is more than they think, but I trust the team, Sutter, and the process.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with our writers? Let us know in the comments!
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