NHL Qualifying Round Preview: Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets

While we’re still a ways off from the restart of the NHL season, we do know who will face off in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Those series are a best of five series with the winners advancing to the normal field of 16 teams for the start of what most people consider the actual postseason. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each series in the qualifying round and give our thoughts on the matter, along with the best options when it comes to placing bets on each series. We’ve already covered the Eastern Conference qualifying round matchups, which you can find by going to the following links: Pittsburgh/Montreal, Carolina/New York Rangers, New York Islanders/Florida and the Toronto/Columbus series. In addition, we started looking at the Western Conference with the Edmonton/Chicago series along with the Nashville/Arizona matchup and the 7/10 matchup between Vancouver and Minnesota. Today, we take a look at the final qualifying round matchup as the #8 Calgary Flames take on the #9 Winnipeg Jets.

#8 Calgary Flames (36-27-7, 79 points) vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6, 80 points)

Head to Head Matchups:

October 26. 2019: Winnipeg 2, Calgary 1

March 14, 2020: Canceled due to COVID-19

March 31, 2020: Canceled due to COVID-19

Series Odds According to VegasInsider.com:

Odds to Win the Series: Calgary -116, Winnipeg +106

Odds For Total Games in the Series: 3 Games (+260), 4 Games (+150), 5 Games (+150)

Odds for Actual Series Result: Calgary 3-0 (+550), Calgary 3-1 (+370), Calgary 3-2 (+370), Winnipeg 3-0 (+600), Winnipeg 3-1 (+390), Winnipeg 3-2 (+380)

Team Statistics:

Calgary: 2.91 goals per game for (20th), 3.06 goals per game against (Tied for 16th), 21.2% power play percentage (12th), 82.1% penalty killing (Tied for 8th)

Winnipeg: 3.00 goals per game for (17th), 2.83 goals per game against (10th), 20.5% power play percentage (15th), 77.6% penalty killing (22nd)

Team Leaders:


Points: Matthew Tkachuk 61, Goals: Elias Lindholm 29, Assists: Johnny Gaudreau 40

Goalie Wins: David Rittich 24, GAA: Cam Talbot 2.63, Shutouts: Talbot/Rittich 2 Save %: Talbot .919


Points: Mark Scheifele/Kyle Connor 73, Goals: Connor 38, Assists: Scheifele 44

Goalie Wins: Connor Hellebuyck 31, GAA: Hellebuyck 2.57, Shutouts: Hellebuyck 6, Save %: Hellebuyck .922


Calgary was inconsistent all season long and that’s a major reason they’re a middle of the pack team in the expanded playoff field. The Flames followed a stretch where they lost seven of eight by winning seven straight games in late November and December. That was quickly followed with a stretch where they dropped five of seven games and then another five-game win streak followed by six losses in eight games. It’s tough to gauge what Calgary team you’re doing to get on a nightly basis, which can make it challenging for the postseason. Will they blitz through the first round or find themselves wiped out? Geoff Ward is going to have to help his team find more consistency.

Six players put up at least 16 goals for the Flames, led by Lindholm’s 29 on the year. Tkachuk potted 23 but guys like Sean Monahan (22 goals, 26 assists) and Johnny Gaudreau (18 goals, 40 assists) have to be better at lighting the lamp in order to help the Flames. Carolina/New York Rangers0 struggled mightily this season for the Flames, putting up only eight goals and 12 assists in 68 games. While he brings plenty of postseason experience with 96 playoff games, including 26 playoff goals, and owns a Stanley Cup ring, the fact remains that he posted the worst Corsi numbers of his career. He has to prove he isn’t washed up and can be a viable contributor.

The Flames are going to rely on their blue line group and hope that they, plus some luck in net, can help them out. Mark Giordano (five goals, 26 assists) is the anchor on the blueline as he logged 23:52 of ice time per game this season. Noah Hanifin (five goals, 17 assists) and T.J. Brodie (four goals, 15 assists) have to help ease the load for Giordano and cut down on scoring chances for the Jets. Rittich started roughly two-thirds of the games in net this season but he has yet to make a playoff appearance in his career. Talbot was decent as the #2 goaltender but he has made 13 postseason starts, posting a 7-6 mark with a 2.48 GAA, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts. That gives the Flames a capable secondary option.

Winnipeg was up and down this season but they were playing strong hockey heading into the pause. The Jets had won four straight and five of six heading into the pause and hope that they can regain that momentum. Five players scored at least 22 goals on the year, led by Connor’s 38 on the year. The Jets also had four players put up at least 60 points with Nikolaj Ehlers contributing 58 of his own. If guys like Jack Roslovic (12 goals, 17 assists) and Andrew Copp (10 goals, 16 assists) can step up and contribute, the Jets can cause wreak havoc on the Flames.

Defensively, the Jets have some work to do in order to be an effective unit and take some pressure off Hellebuyck. Neal Pionk (six goals, 39 assists) is the top producer on the blue line and he helps make the power play hum for the Jets. Josh Morrissey, Tucker Poolman, Luca Sbisa and Dmitry Kulikov has to be able to come up with solid play in their own end to help things out. When it comes to being the last line of defense, Hellebuyck is a sneaky Vezina Trophy candidate with his performance this season. Hellebuyck was second in the league in victories, first in games played and first in shutouts while ranking seventh in save percentage. He has made 23 postseason starts in his career and he’s a lot more consistent than Rittich.

When you get right down to it, these two teams are pretty evenly matched. The Flames’ biggest advantage comes from their penalty killing and they will be tested against the efficient Jets’ power play. Calgary’s inconsistency this season is a major concern and one has to wonder if training camp is going to be enough to help the team get back up to speed and became a cohesive unit. The Flames may own the proverbial home-ice advantage for this series but that doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Calgary was below .500 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, going 16-17-4 in those contests. Hellebuyck was tremendous all season long and kept the Jets afloat during some rough stretches. Given the Flames’ inconsistency and the offensive weapons the Jets have, plus the better goaltending situation for Winnipeg, you have to give the slight underdogs the nod in this contest.


Winnipeg to Win Series +106

Winnipeg to Win Series in 5 Games +380

Series to Go 5 Games +150

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.