Back to the Western Conference we go for the next playoff preview as we have the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets going head to head. Definitely not the team we wanted to see Calgary playing but regardless it should be a decent series.
Season Series-Believe it or not these two teams only met once this past season. It was a 2-1 overtime win for the Winnipeg Jets. Considering that was all the way back in October it’s tough to really compare that to how this series might go.
Winnipeg Jets(37-28-6, 80PTS)
Usually the best part of playoff hockey for Winnipeg is their fans. We aren’t getting that this year unfortunately so hopefully their on ice product is pretty good. Led by Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele the Jets have one of the best top lines in the league. Add in guys like Adam Lowry, Matthew Perreault, and Nikolaj Ehlers and this team could make some noise. They have guys that can score and they have decent depth players. They will need their top guys to produce at the level they’re supposed to if they want to get past Calgary in this series. While they will count on their top guys keep an eye on Andrew Copp who could really make a name for himself in these playoffs.The biggest issue with this team is their defense. After trading away Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglin decided to walk away from the game. So when you lose your top two defenseman you should go out and address that issue. The Jets failed to do that and that’s why they ended in the position they are in instead of being one of the top four teams. They have some okay guys back there with Neal Pionk and Nathan Beaulieu. But they lack a shutdown defenseman and that is going to be a tough thing for them to overcome going up against a talented Flames offense.
Connor Hellebuyck will be between the pipes for the Jets and you have to give him a lot of credit because he’s the main reason they have had any sort of success this season. The dude has been fantastic and can easily swing this series in favor of the Jets. I fully expect him to have to bail them out on numerous occasions and the Jets will rely on him to move them on to the next round.
Calgary Flames(36-27-7, 79PTS)
I like this Calgary team and I think they have a lot of potential. This season I don’t think they played up to that potential. They have a great group of young forwards with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindblom. Those four guys lead the way scoring for the Flames and they get some decent help from their depth players as well. Guys like Byron Froese, Andrew Mangiapane, and Milan Lucic provide some scoring and the physical play that makes Calgary a lot of fun to watch. Those guys will be counted on to try and wear down the Jets as the series progresses.On defense they are led by veteran Mark Giordano along with T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic. However, their best defenseman may just be the young stud Noah Hanifin. Those four guys will have to step up and shut down the high powered offense of the Jets. The age of some of the veterans could come into play as Winnipeg is a fast team. If the older guys can keep up they should be able to shutdown the Jets offense.
David Rittich or Cam Talbot? Take your pick in net. Two average goalies that haven’t really impressed this season will now try to lead Calgary to a Stanley Cup. Spoiler, it’s not gonna happen sure one of these guys could get hit but it won’t be enough to take the all the way. Personally, I think Rittich should get the starts as I think he’s been the better of the two throughout the season. Should be interesting to see how well he plays as I think with no fans that might ease some of the nerves for goalies.Prediction-