April 13 2017 08:00AM
The Flames and the Ducks! What a classic matchup! Right? Right?!
The Calgary Flames come in featuring a lineup of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and "18-year-old" Sam Bennett, while the Anaheim Ducks sport an older contingent of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Corey Perry as their core trio.
While neither team gets their rival matchup in Edmonton and San Jose, the teams get to fight it out against one another in a season where both teams were quite uncertain of their expectations going into it.
The teams have no playoff history in recent times as they haven't played since 2005-06, when the Ducks were still going by the "Mighty" moniker. The Ducks won that series in seven games, that also took place in the first round. The Ducks lost to the Oilers, who then made it all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm not sure what happened, but I don't think they've won the Cup since 1990.
Calgary hasn't won in Anaheim since January 2004. While it really shouldn't have an impact on the series, the team's four losses this season should. Calgary got beat by two goals or more three of their four losses, and then scored eight goals in the second meeting of the year despite being outshot by eight. I'd have to give Anaheim the edge here. If you take away the season series, the Ducks end up with 97 points while the Flames end up with 92. It's a significant enough factor in each team's season.
What the numbers say
Calgary: 49.3 5v5 GF%, 50.6 5v5 CF%, 50.1 5v5 FF%, 9.3 SH%, .907 SV%, 20.1 PP%, 81.5 PK% 226 GF, 221 GAAnaheim: 53.0 5v5 GF%, 49.7 5v5 CF%, 50.1 5v5 FF%, 9.1 SH%, .919 SV%,18.7 PP%, 84.7 PK% GF 223, GA 200
Anaheim holds the edge in four categories (with one tie), while Calgary holds the edge in four as well. However, Anaheim's far superior goal differential, 5v5 ability to score, and stronger goaltending likely give them an edge. That being said, the numbers aren't really too far in favour of the Ducks that you could give them the rights to a sweep or anything like that, but the advantage is still worth noting that most prediction models will be favouring them.
Why you should cheer for the Flames
Though they're not really run by a bunch of rookies, this team is still relatively young and pretty exciting. Johnny Gaudreau & company have only played in the playoffs once before, and that sort of youthful hunger is always exciting to watch.
They haven't won a Stanley Cup in this writer's lifetime, and in all likelihood many of yours as well. It's been an entire few generations of NHL players since Calgary was Let's get real, Canadian Stanley Cups are better than American ones. It'd be like if the Toronto Bills won the Super Bowl. While the New Jersey Devils were once referred to as a Mickey Mouse franchise, the Ducks literally are a Mickey Mouse franchise. The Flames also don't have Ryan Kesler. So there's that.
Why you should cheer for the Ducks
Randy Carlyle was made out to be the worst NHL coach of all time this offseason when he was hired, mocked endlessly for his failures with a coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He won the division this season.
Sure, he's still yet to win a playoff series and has taken this team's possession downwards, but he still did that and it's not exactly an easy task in today's NHL.
Besides that, it's getting close to the last hurrah for Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, if that's you're thing. Kevin Bieksa has just one year left on his deal at age 35, and 32-year-old Patrick Eaves has been having a monster year, slotting home 11 goals in 20 games since being picked up at the deadline.
Plus, hockey in the area of the beach is always a fun time.
The Honda Center provides a real challenge for the Flames for whatever reason, and the Ducks have a small but noticeable advantage in terms of defensive play and goal differential. Add in that the Ducks were a superior team over the course of the 82-game regular season,
It'll be close, but I'm going with Ducks in six.
Unfortunately, it's looking like there will be no battle of Alberta this season. Calgary's time to be a contender probably isn't far around the corner, but it isn't this season.