PREVIEW: Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames
Dylan Callaghan-Croley (@DylanCCSports)
July 31, 2020
What They Did in the Regular Season:
Calgary Flames: The Flames during the regular season collected a 36-27-7 record which was good enough for 79-points and third in the Pacific Division.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets were not that much different than the Flames this season going 37-28-6 with 80-points, finishing the regular season fourth in the central division.
Offensive Analysis: EDGE - WINNIPEG JETS
Offensively, the Flames averaged 2.91 goals per game this season, putting them 20th in the league when it comes to scoring. Additionally, their power play succeeded at a 21.2% clip which ranked 12th in the league.
When it comes to scoring, they were led by rising star Matthew Tkachuk who had 61 points in 69 games with 23 goals and 38 assists. Additionally, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm both had 50-point seasons. Their offense as one would guess off their 2.91 goals per game isn’t stellar and they do lack a dominating presence for the most part. Overall, their depth is quality with 11 players totaling 20+ points during the season but only five players above 40-points.
Offensively, it felt like the Jets underperformed this year when considering their talent level. While Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Patrik Laine all scored over 60-points this season, the Jets still managed just 3.00 goals per game which ranked 17th in the NHL while their power play managed to succeed at just a 20.5% clip which ranked 15th in the league.
When looking at the Jets goal scoring breakdown, only seven of the 34 skaters that have geared up for Winnipeg this season have scored double-digit goals. To build off that, only nine players have 20+ points. A top heavy offense to say the least, the Jets top two lines can score at a tremendous rate, however, their bottom six really struggle to produce.
Defensive Analysis: - EVEN
Defensively, the Flames were exactly the league average, ranking 15th in the league while allowing 3.06 goals per game this season. During the regular season, their blue line was led by a trio of veterans in T.J Brodie, Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic. However, Harmonic has decided to opt-out of playing in the restart. That being said, the Flames should still be okay defensively with a young trio of Noah Hanififn, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington all showing promise this past season but also are far from finished products. Additionally, both Derek Forbort and Erik Gustaffson came to Calgary prior to the trade deadline but only played in seven games each before the shutdown. Overall, Calgary has a talented defensive corps but will need both their young guys (Hanifin, Andersson, and Kylington) and new guys (Forbort and Gustaffson) to all step up if they hope to make a run this postseason.
In net, the Flames will go with 27-year old David Rittich who played and started in 48-games this season. In those 48-games, he was 24-17-6 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.97 goals against average. Backing up Rittich will be Cam Talbot who in 26-games was 12-10-1 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average.
Winnipeg on defense was among the top-10 in the league, allowing 2.83 goals per game. However, the penalty kill did struggle at times this season and only had a kill rate of 77.6% which ranked 22nd in the NHL.
The Jets blueline is a talented group but one that has underperformed for the most part this season. Josh Morisey and Neal Poink have arguably been their two best defenseman this year but both have also had their fair share of struggles. Trade deadline acquisition Dylan Demelo looked promising in his 10-games with the team before the shutdown but isn’t known to be the most consistent defenseman either. They’ll need Demelo to really step up his game and be consistent if they hope to make run. Also needing to step up their game is likely third pairing Nathan Beaulieu and Tucker Poolman.
In goal for the Jets will be Connor Hellebuyck, one of the league’s top goaltenders. Hellebuyck is coming off a great regular season going 31-21-5 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.57 goals allowed average. He’ll be backed up by Laurent Brossoit who appeared in 19 games this season, saving 89.5% of opposing shot attempts and allowing 3.28 goals per game.
Special Teams: EDGE - Calgary Flames
Calgary’s special teams were very good during the regular season ranking in the top half of the league for both their powerplay and penalty kill. In the postseason, special teams often can be the decider in a series which will give the Flames an advantage over most competition based off what we saw in the regular season.
Overall, this is a really tough matchup to predict and I think this could be a pretty fun series to watch. There’s a lot to like about Calgary in this series, especially defensively and when it comes to their special teams. However, they are a team that has struggled offensively and they’ll be going up against one of the league’s top goalies. On the other hand, the Jets are a team that could put up 4+ goals any given night but also could be shut down any given night. It’s truly a story of inconsistency all around for their skaters. As long as they have Connor Hellebuyck in net, they’ll have a solid chance of picking up a win and you have to like their matchup against Calgary’s offensive game. With that, we’re going to go with the Jets to win this series in five.