The Calgary Flames managed to climb to the top this season in the Western Conference, while the Colorado Avalanche nearly missed qualification when it came to the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. So to see who will win the series, we decided to break it down for you.
How Each Team Arrived Here
The Calgary Flames didn’t make the playoffs in the previous season after making the playoffs during the 2016/17 season for one important reason, offence. The Flames had a goal per game average of 2.63, placing them 27th in the NHL. Therefore, Brad Treliving, the General Manager of the Flames, decided to go to work. He decided to fire Glen Gulutzan as a coach and hired Bill Peters from Carolina. He also made significant trades, moving Michael Ferland and Dougie Hamilton for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. He also signed James Neal and Derek Ryan. These changes, along with Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, assisted the Flames to be the third-best in the league when it came to offence.
The Colorado Avalanche had a far more complicated route to the playoffs where they clinched the wild-card spot within the last few days of the NHL regular season. They achieved it with Philipp Grubauer as their goalie who they acquired from the Capitals last summer. Although depth is not something that can be associated with the Avalanche team, they did impress with one of the best lines in the league when they are healthy and working together. However, do they have enough to eliminate the Flames when they face each other?
There’s no denying that Giordano is among the favourite to take home the Norris Trophy after a phenomenal season that saw him score a total of 17 goals, accumulates 74 points, and provides a plus-39 rating. He is currently paired with T.J Brodie. Hanifin and Travis Hamonic is essentially the other duo. However, then things start getting a little thin with Dalton Prout, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, and Oscar Fantenberg in the mix. The Colorado Avalanche boast with Tyson Barrie, accumulating 59 points in only 78 matches during the NHL regular season. He is coupled with Nikita Zadorov impressing with a plus-19 regular season. Erik Johnson is regarded as the leader when it comes to ice time, skating with Samuel Girard, while Patrik Nemeth and Ian Cole make up the rest of the group.
Since 21 March, Rantanen has been skating for the team in a non-contact team jersey this week. However, it seems like he will be answering the bell for the first game this week. The Colorado Flames are extremely healthy. Therefore, the advantage is given to them if Rantanen makes his return.
The Avalanche remain in it with Grubauer. However, the offence of the Flames will prove too much to control in the game. Thankfully, Cale Makar as the number 1 prospect when it comes to hockey, along with the lottery pick in Ottawa means that they will go for a loaded season next year.