Jets vs Flames - NHL Qualifying Round Preview & Prediction
We continue to inch closer to the restart of the NHL season, which will begin with the postseason. The NHL playoffs will have 24 teams in it with the 16 of those teams playing in eight best-of-five Qualifying round matchups. The Top four teams in each conference will then square off against each other in a round-robin style format to determine the seeding of those four teams. The four teams from the West that win their Qualifying Matchup will face the top four teams in that conference and the same for the East.
Here are my other Previews:
Today, I will breakdown the matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames. The Flames are listed at -120 while the Jets come in at +100.
A Look At The Jets
Regular Season Stats & Rankings: The Jets come in ranked 17th in scoring at 3.00 gpg, 17th in shots per game at 31.3, and 15th in powerplay conversions at 20.5%. On the defensive end of the ice, they finished at 10th in goals allowed at 2.83 gpg, 25th in shots allowed at 32.6 spg, and 22nd in penalty kill at 77.6%.
The Winnipeg Jets had a very mediocre season as they finished at 37-34 and in 4th place in the Central Division with 80 points. They were 14 points out of first. The Jets did play much better down the stretch as they won their final four games in a row and went 11-6 over their final 17. This will be their 3rd year in a row in the playoffs. Winnipeg has been known as an offensive team the last few years but that was not the case this year as they finished 17th in scoring. Winnipeg had finished 7th or better in scoring in each of the last three seasons, so finishing 17th this year is a bit of a shock. They will need the offense to be much better in the playoffs or they could be ousted in the first round, just like last year. Leading the team in goals has been Kyle Connor with 38 while 2nd is Mark Scheifele with 29 and 3rd is Patrik Laine with 28. They dod have five players with at least 22 goals but just two other players with 10 or more. Leading the team in points has been Scheifele and Connor, who both have 73 while 2nd is Blake Wheeler with 65.
As I stated above, the Jets really played well down the stretch and a big reason for that was their play in the crease. Winnipeg was 10th in goals allowed this year, giving up 2.83 gpg but they were even better down the stretch, allowing just 2.10 gpg over their final 20 games. If they can duplicate that kind of play, then the Jets could surprise in the postseason. Connor Hellebuyck is the guy they will rely on after going 31-26 with a 2.57 GAA on the year including 13-12 with a 2.75 GAA away from home. He had six shutouts this year. In his career, he has gone 5-2 with a 1.97 GAA against the Flames and 11-12 with a 2.44 GAA in the playoffs. Backing him up will be Laurent Brossoit, who went 6-8 with a 3.28 GAA on the year, including 4-5 with a 3.12 GAA away from home. In his career, he has gone 2-1 with a 3.59 GAA against the Flames. Brossoit has one game of playoff experience and he allowed two goals in 27 minutes in the game, which came as a member of the Oilers.
A Look At The Flames
Regular Season Stats & Rankings: The Flames come in ranked 20th in scoring at 2.91 gpg, 15th in shots per game at 31.6, and 11th in powerplay conversions at 21.2%. On the defensive end of the ice, they finished at 17th in goals allowed at 3.06 gpg, 24th in shots allowed at 32.4 spg, and 8th in penalty kill at 82.1%.
The Calgary Flames went 36-34 on the year while finishing in 3rd place in the Pacific Division with 79 points. They were 8th in the Western Conference overall and it will be their 4th time in the last six years that they have been in the postseason. Calgary hopes for a better showing than their last two, which ended in the first round. The offense has not been great this year and they scored just three goals exact in each of their last 6 games. The offense will need to step up here but it will not be all that easy as the Jets have been a solid team in the crease this year. Calgary has six players with at least 16 goals but no one else with more than 10. Elias Lindholm leads the team with 29 while Matthew Tkachuk is 2nd with 23 and Sean Monahan is 3rd with 22. Tkachuk leads the team in points with 61 while Johnny Gaudreau is 2nd with 58 and Lindholm is 3rd with 54.
The Flames finished last year at 9th in the league in goals allowed but they slipped to 17th this year. They did play a bit better down the stretch, allowing just 2.63 gpg over their final eight games. David Rittich is the main guy and he went 24-23 with a 2.97 GAA on the year, including 15-13 with a 2.81 GAA away from home. In his career, he has gone 2-1 with a 1.97 GAA against the Jets but he does have no playoff experience. Backing him up will be Cam Talbot, who went 12-11 with a 2.63 GAA overall, including 5-4 with a 2.06 GAA away from home. In his career, he has gone 6-5 with a 3.10 GAA against the Jets and he is 7-7 with a 2.48 GAA in the postseason. The Flames have had their struggles on offense this year, so the goaltending will need to step up.
Prediction: Neither team had great seasons this year and that should make for an exciting series. The Flames did play pretty well down the stretch but I still feel that the Jets are the play here. They also got their act together down the stretch and Winnipeg has a big edge in the Crease with Hellebyuck over Rittich. Winnipeg allowed just 2.10 gpg over their final 20 games this year and I feel that it will be their play in the crease that gives them the edge here. Winnipeg has struggled to score at times but they also have an edge on offense. I feel that after the break, the Winnipeg offense will really wake up. This series should go the distance and it will be the Jets that come out on top in five games.
Odds take FromBetonline.ag
Stats Garnered FromHockey-Reference