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NHL Playoffs: Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche Preview

Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames fans its game day!

For the first time since 1989, the Calgary Flames are heading into the playoffs on top of the Western Conference.

The last time the Flames had a season of this magnitude they won the Stanley Cup… If that doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what will.

The Avalanche had a late-season surge to claim the last wildcard spot led by one of the best lines in the NHL.

Explosive Offence

The Flames were one of the best offensive teams in the league in the regular season scoring 289 goals, which was third in the NHL.

The Calgary Flames had five players with 70 plus points this season led by Johnny Gaudreau (99), followed by Sean Monahan (82), Elias Lindholm (78), Matthew Tkachuk (77), and Mark Giordano (74). As you can see the Flames are a very deep team offensively and having five players over 70 points is an extremely rare occurrence that separates the Flames from any other teams.

Despite the Avalanche squeaking into the playoffs, the Flames shouldn’t overlook the Avalanche as they had one of the best lines in the NHL.

Nathan MacKinnon led the way for the Avalanche with 99 points and 41 goals and is always a tough opponent to get off his game. Mikko Rantanen finished with 87 points, followed by Gabriel Landeskog with 75 points.

With these two offences colliding, we could get a high scoring series!

Goaltending questions

The Flames have been successful this season with their goaltending tandem of Mike Smith and David Rittich.

Smith is getting the start in game one but fans should expect to see Rittich at some point this series.

Smith finished the season with some impressive play and returned to the old Mike Smith Flames fans know and love. David Rittich took a step up this season and really made a big impact in February stepping in for Smith as the starter. Rittich stood tall after it seemed like age and fatigue took a strong hold on Smith.

It’s the right decision by Bill Peters and the coaching staff to start Smith because of his playoff experience. The Flames have a unique situation seeing as they have someone as good as Rittich in their back pocket if Smith fails to get the job done in any game.

Mike Smith:

GAA: 2.73

Save %: .898

David Rittich:

GAA: 2.61

Save%: .911

Statistically, Rittich has been better than Smith this season but Flames fans know when Mike Smith is at his best it seems like nothing can get by him. On the flip side, when he’s off it can get ugly really fast. It’s reassuring to know that Big Save Dave is ready to go if need be.

The Avalanche are in a similar situation to the Flames, they have relied on their goaltending duo of Philipp Grubauer and Semyon Varlamov all season.

Grubauer gets the start in game one for the Avalanche but just like I said before fans should be prepared to see Varlamov at some point. Especially if the Avalanche needs help slowing down the Flames offence.

Philipp Grubauer:

GAA: 2.64

Save %: .917

Semyon Varlamov:

GAA: 2.87

Save%: .909

Prediction

The Calgary Flames offence will be too much for the Avalanche and the Flames will take the series in five games.

Game one is tonight at 8 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Photo Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

Podcaster for Baseline to Baseline and local Calgary journalist. Have written articles for the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Roughnecks, Hockey Canada, the University of Calgary Dinos men’s basketball, multiple SAIT Trojans teams, Postmedia, The Canadian Press, and Fansided.com. Favourite teams are the Calgary Flames (2004 Stanley Cup champions #ItWasIn), Toronto Raptors (please stay Kawhi), Toronto Blue Jays, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

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