Two points out of a playoff spot with two games at hand, you could be confident that the Calgary Flames will land a spot in the 2017-2018 NHL playoffs. How deep will they go? That’s a different story. After being swept in the 1st round of the playoffs last season, Calgary has made enough changes to avoid being eliminated in the 1st round again. With the strong play of newly acquired Mike Smith, surprising rookie Mark Jankowski and highly sawed out defenseman Travis Hamonic the Flames have added stability between the pipes, gritty, producing forward and hockey sense on the blue line so what else could they possibly need? More pucks in the net.
Calgary is in the bottom 10 in goals for and sit in 12th in goals against which has a lot to do with Mike Smith. A power play success rate at 17.1%, which leaves them in the bottom 10, in the league and PK% at 79.6 also puts them in the bottom 10 in that category. Two things any Stanley cup winning team will tell you is very important if you wanna make a run for that glorious cup: special teams and depth, and the Flames seriously lack in both. Guys like Morgan Klimchuk and Rasmus Andersson could certainly come up and play their hearts out but if that’s all they got loaded in the chamber, It will be like shooting BB’s at a bear. There’s no real solution to this as the Flames will never move one of their key players and the players who they can do without won’t attract any offers that will help the team go deeper in the playoffs. They can trade Troy Brouwer and/or Mark Jankowski but they aren’t going to fetch the Flames much. Troy Brouwer has never been a big point producer, however this season he’s not even par with where he should be. There’s not enough known about Mark Jankowski, who has 7 goals and 6 assists in 35 NHL career games, to use him as trade bait and make a big splash. Perhaps a team like Colorado or Tampa Bay, who are bottom feeders in the faceoff circle, could make a play for him.
Calgary’s top 2 point producers seem to be the main reason why Calgary will make it into the playoffs, with Johnny Gaudreau at 49 points and Sean Monahan at 39 points the closest player to them is Micheal Ferland with 13 points less. The second line needs to step it up, and in a hurry, because we’re past the midway point of the season and the bottom 9 isn’t producing enough. You would think with guys like Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Troy Brouwer would be sitting at about 29 points each and Brouwer, where is Brouwer right now? Can someone please tell Troy Brouwer that the NHL 2017-2018 season has started! The Flames are going to need a 30-35 point season out of him because his 3 goals and 7 assist just aren’t going to cut it for a second line RW.
To be completely blunt, I think the Calgary Flames will make the playoffs but have an early exit. I see them having a fantastic first round and gaining tons of experience but when you look at the Western Conference, no matter who they play in round two will chew them up and spit them out. They simply don’t stack against teams like the Cinderella story Vegas Golden Knights, the fire power the Winnipeg Jets or the defensive play and goaltending of the L.A Kings. The Flames will have to wait for their players to gain more experience in the NHL playoffs and possibly move some pieces at some point for a couple of mid 20 year old, 60 point scorers before they could have a real shot at the glory that all Canadian clubs are dying for, the Stanley Cup.