2019 NHL First Spherical Playoff Preview: Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche

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There could have been no worse draw for the Colorado Avalanche, who enter the primary spherical on considerably of a scorching streak as winners of eight of their previous 11 contests, than the Western Convention greatest Calgary Flames. When the previous Northwest Division foes have met this season, the outings have been decidedly one-sided, with the Avalanche making an attempt however failing to decelerate a Flames offense that was among the many league’s greatest this season.
The place this sequence can change straight away, although, is within the blue paint. Calgary’s crease woes are not any secret, and Colorado has gotten some nice goaltending out of Philipp Grubauer in latest weeks. As with all playoff sequence, netminding might be the distinction. If Grubauer exhibits up and the Flames tandem of Mike Smith and David Rittich doesn’t, we may very well be in for an upset.
CALGARY FLAMESThe smartest factor new coach Invoice Peters did in Calgary was acknowledge the expertise within the Flames lineup and design a sport plan that allowed it to flourish. The place as soon as Calgary was a fringe workforce that moved the puck primarily on the skin of the scoring zone, the Flames are at their greatest once they’re making brief, crisp passes that may dissect defenses. That has helped increase an offense that ranked 27th a 12 months in the past to the highest 5 this season – with a 35-percent hike in scoring, or virtually one objective per sport. The chemistry between playmaker Johnny Gaudreau, triggerman Sean Monahan and newcomer Elias Lindholm has been electrical. And Matthew Tkachuk has developed right into a well-rounded offensive device who can even antagonize the opposition.
Peters has inspired his defensemen to turn out to be a part of the offense, to aggressively pinch on the blueline and to not all the time assume low-percentage stretch-pass. Consequently, 12-year veteran Mark Giordano reached a profession excessive in factors by February, and T.J. Brodie noticed his plus-minus swing by a measure of 40. Even Travis Hamonic and Noah Hanifin will hit profession highs in objectives or factors regardless of little power-play time.
The Flames wrestle once they run into defenses that clog the center and power them to the skin. Throughout a four-game dropping streak in March, Calgary scored simply 5 objectives towards groups (Minnesota, Toronto, Vegas and Arizona) that created a decent defensive shell with energetic sticks in inside passing lanes. And though the neutral-zone entice of yesterday’s period has largely been nullified with countermeasures, using it towards the Flames can frustrate them earlier than they’ve an opportunity to mount an assault. Take the physique towards the Flames and also you’ll put on them down. They’re not a workforce that ever controls the trenches. Just a few Calgary gamers have the willingness to push again.
X-Issue: The crease in Calgary is unsettled. Age has caught as much as 37-year-old Mike Smith. His reflexes are noticeably slower to the purpose he performs deep in his crease so as to compensate, which makes his 6-foot-5, 220-pound body look small. He has had spurts of strong play, however his sub-.900 save proportion doesn’t intimidate shooters. David Rittich seized the opening and have become the de facto No. 1 because the Flames rose within the West. Nonetheless, he has run cold and hot because the all-star break. One interval he’s ‘Massive Save Dave’ and the subsequent he’s susceptible to giveaways, psychological lapses and a desertion of confidence.
COLORADO AVALANCHEThe Avalanche’s identification one 12 months in the past, once they improved by an astounding 47 factors to make the playoffs: an thrilling however top-heavy workforce with one dominant line. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog scored 36.5 % of Colorado’s objectives. This season: 40.7 %.
Glass half empty: that stat tells us the Avs’ secondary scoring is even worse this season. Glass half full: it’s not that the Avs’ supporting solid is weaker – it’s simply that the star trio is even higher. Whatever the prism by means of which we see Colorado, we all know it may ice one actually excellent line each time coach Jared Bednar isn’t experimenting with splitting the group up – and that the Avs nonetheless critically lack scoring depth.
No. three middle Carl Soderberg did crest 20 objectives for the primary time, however many of the younger forwards have stalled apart from J.T. Compher. Tyson Jost acquired demoted to the AHL for a month. Alexander Kerfoot’s fortunate taking pictures proportion regressed. An damage in March shelved Landeskog for the remainder of the common season, additional exposing the crippling lack of depth.
Not a lot else concerning the Avs stands out apart from their stars. Without end underrated blueliner Tyson Barrie leads a robust energy play. He and Samuel Girard transfer the puck properly, whereas Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov and Ian Cole carry physicality on protection. Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer have offered competent goaltending, not likely successful the workforce video games however not dropping them, both.
It’s a middling roster – however that’s considerably by design. Colorado GM Joe Sakic didn’t let one ahead-of-schedule season have an effect on his selections in the summertime of 2018. He stayed conservative, figuring out his workforce has last-place Ottawa’s first-round decide this June plus some elite prospects within the pipeline, none higher than defenseman Cale Makar. A playoff berth this season is simply gravy.
X-Issue: The Avalanche are brief on expertise. Ian Cole is their lone skater with a Stanley Cup ring (with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017). However Derick Brassard has some helpful tread on his tires. His 78 video games prior to now 5 post-seasons tie him for third within the NHL. From 2013-14 to 2016-17, he went to a Stanley Cup ultimate and two convention finals between the Rangers and Senators. Traded twice this season, he didn’t make a big influence early on with the Avs, however his smarts and willingness to play in high-traffic areas may assist him ship a clutch second. He has 5 profession game-winning playoff objectives.
Season Collection:Oct. 13, 2018 – CGY three, COL 2 (OT)Nov. 1, 2018 – CGY 6, COL 5Jan. 9, 2019 – CGY 5, COL three
Schedule:Thursday, April 11, 10 p.m.: Avalanche at FlamesSaturday, April 13, 10:30 p.m.: Avalanche at FlamesMonday, April 15, 10 p.m.: Flames at AvalancheWednesday, April 17, 10 p.m.: Flames at Avalanche*Friday, April 19, TBD: Avalanche at Flames*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Flames at Avalanche*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Avalanche at Flames(All video games listed in Jap Time)
Fan Favourite: Calgary Flames
THN Collection Choose: Calgary Flames in six
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