After a long regular season, the Calgary Flames are finally in the promised land. They’ve made it to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their task won’t be easy as they take on the Anaheim Ducks, and will have to win at least one game at the Honda Center.
With that in mind, let’s move into our first roundtable of the postseason!
1.Now that the table is set for playoff hockey, how are you feeling about the Flames heading into the series and what MUST HAPPEN for the Flames to win?
FlamesMM: The Ducks have always employed a physical brand of defensive hockey which made it very difficult for the Flames to score on them. For this series, each and every Flame must be completely willing to take the big hit to make a play. Calgary also has to stay cool and collected against a Ducks team which likes to intimidate other teams to get them off their game. The Flames have to at least earn a split in the first two games to have a shot. Easier said than done.
rushtheflamesfan: I think that this can be a very close series. While the Flames lost their last game in the Honda Centre, I liked their overall play in that game, mainly because they were strong on possession, speedy and showed a lot of spirit in the third. They essentially stuck to their systems but added some physicality. Game 1 is going to be crucial, as the Ducks will be without Nick Ritchie and Cam Fowler. So, starting from the first game onwards, Calgary will need to set the tone of the game, be strong on possession, and tighten up defensively. If the Flames work on these areas, we’re looking at a very good series.
MarkParkinson 14: Call me a realist, but I don’t have a good feeling about this series. I feel like Anaheim knows how to push Calgary’s buttons and the Flames are all too eager to respond. The Flames need to avoid getting wrapped up in the Ducks nonsense and style. If the Flames stay out of the gutter and play their game, they have a chance. I just hope this series isn’t like their last game. That was an embarrassment to the sport of hockey.
BizzleJ: I am not pleased with facing the Ducks in the 1st Round because for some reason, be it mentally or physically, we can not win in Anaheim! I would have much rather faced the Hawks or Oilers. Anyway, what’s done is done. If the Flames want to win in Anaheim, here is what NEEDS to happen. They must take the train from Calgary to Anaheim and have ‘er stocked with beer! Seriously though, they need to come up with more creative ways to score on two goalies who are mediocre, yet somehow always come to play when Calgary is in town.
Samwell9: I feel surprisingly optimistic! The Ducks are obviously favoured and probably not the ideal opponent for the Calgary Flames, but this edition of the team feels special. Sure, the Flames did not win in Anaheim this year but it is not like they were blown out of the water in the most recent contest. The Ducks are not as good a team as they have been in recent years, while the Flames are a much better team than they were last time in the playoffs. The Ducks have injuries, while the Flames are going into the series without any significant losses at this point. To win? The Flames need to not shy away from the physicality, but manage to avoid crossing the line and taking unnecessary penalties. If they can play a solid structured game like they have been for the majority of the last few months, they will be right in this series. Just like the regular season, they are going to need contributions from the whole team.
Renu Sahota: I’m terrified of the Duck Pond – as well as of Getzlaf and co. Besides a lucky horse shoe - the Calgary Flames will have to play a quick and disciplined game versus the Anaheim Ducks. There’s still bad blood lingering after Gio sent Fowler to the IR list – and as long as the young’n Tkachuk can keep his cool now and then - perhaps the Flames can get past the nightmare at Honda Center.
2. In the 2014-15 Playoffs, Micheal Ferland burst onto the scene out of nowhere and became a x-factor in the win over Vancouver. Who do you think could be an unexpected x-factor in this series?
FlamesMM: With the Ducks focusing on the Flames top six, I think it will open the door for the Flames bottom lines to make plays. In particular, I think Troy Brouwer will rise from the ashes of a horrendous season to lead the Flames to victory. Or maybe I’ve been smoking something, I’m not totally sure.
rushtheflamesfan: I’m looking at Matthew Tkachuk to have a really good series. With the Ducks focusing on a more physical style of play, the Flames will want to get under their skin and force them to take penalties. Tkachuk is exactly that kind of a player. He’ll have a chance to produce good offensive numbers given that he is on the 3-M line, so keep an eye on the Flames rookie throughout the series.
MarkParkinson14: I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’ll say Sam Bennett. His physical style of hockey could suit him well against a Ducks team that isn’t afraid to throw the body around. I feel like Bennett was coming on as the season was ending and let’s face it, he can only go up from here.
BizzleJ: Gotta go with ex-Red Deer Rebel Kris Versteeg here. He was great to watch here in Red Deer, and I enjoy watching him in a Flames jersey. Even when he is not scoring, he is a presence on the ice whether he is laying the body, or chirping.
Samwell9: I’m with Mark here, I’m going with Sam Bennett. It has been a difficult regular season for him, but he has come around lately and this seems like the sort of series he can thrive in. He can play the gritty game, but has the skill to make the Ducks pay. He has been very effective with Versteeg and Chiasson this year so if that line stays intact, I could see Bennett making a difference. He will be needed.
Renu Sahota: I love Versteeg – definitely somebody to watch for in this first round series. He’s been there, done that – couple times, with the Hawks. He’ll have a big leadership role in that locker room, plus he just seems like a nice guy who likes to have fun. I think he’ll have fun being an x-factor versus the Ducks.
3. Which player do you have high expectations for in the series?
FlamesMM: I have high expectations for Sean Monahan. Not only will he need to produce offensively, but he’ll need to step up his game defensively. There will be times where his line will be caught out against the Ducks top players, and he’ll need to step his play up, especially physically in order to shut them down. There’s a lot of pressure for him to produce on both ends of the ice for the 6’3 forward against the big Ducks team.
rushtheflamesfan: I know it’s Mark Giordano’s first playoff series since 2007, but I hope that the Flames captain continues his strong play on the blue line and maintain high morale in the locker room. This team has experienced a lot of adversity throughout the season and Giordano’s leadership on the ice and in the locker room will be crucial in ensuring playoff success for the Calgary Flames.
MarkParkinson14: Brian Elliott. As he goes, the Flames will go. We all know Calgary has ZERO luck against Anaheim, but if Brian Elliott could steal a game and play the way he has in the second half of the season, I think the Flames stand a chance. I believe Elliott is the key but if he falters, this could get ugly really quickly.
BizzleJ: I have extremely high expectations of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Both wanted more money in the off-season, and one even held out longer than Flames fans ever wanted to imagine. Now it’s time to give those new contracts some backing and show the organization and fans the value.
Samwell9: T.J. Brodie. The Giordano-Hamilton pairing cannot play the whole game unfortunately, so the Brodie-Stone duo is really going to need to be reliable, as we have seen how much of a tire fire Bartkowski and Engelland are together. Brodie has the ability to thwart the opposition and if he does not have a good series, the Flames are not making it through this round.
Renu Sahota: I want to see both TJ Brodie and Sean Monahan stepping up their game – the Flames will need more player grit and hustle if they want to make it past the first round of Duck Hunt. Kesler and Bieksa aren’t going down easy – but down in flames they will go.
4. Finally, who is going to win the series and in how many games?
FlamesMM: Flames in 6.
rushtheflamesfan: Flames in 7 (knock on wood).
MarkParkinson14: Ducks in 6. But I hope I’m wrong.
BizzleJ: Flames in 7 (hard-fought, grinded out games)
Samwell9: Flames in 6, and they are going to win one of the first 2 games.
Renu Sahota: I say if the Flames can win even ONE of the first two games at Honda Center – then the Calgary Flames will take it in Game 6 – if it goes to Game 7 – so help us hockey gods. Go Flames Go!
Who wins the series and how many games?
This poll is closed
Flames in 4
Flames in 5
Flames in 6
Flames in 7
Ducks in 4
Ducks in 5
Ducks in 6
Ducks in 7