Saturday evening on the NHL Ice and we will see the Winnipeg Jets duke it out with the Calgary Flames. This is game one of a best-of-five qualifying round series. This will be the first game back for both teams as a very unique playoff system begins. The Jets won the lone meeting between these teams in the regular season by a score of 2-1 in OT.
The Jets Need More Players To Step Up On OffenseThe Winnipeg Jets are a team with plenty of offensive firepower, including Mark Scheifele (29 goals), Patrik Laine (28), Kyle Connor (38), Blake Wheeler (22), and Nikolaj Ehlers (25) but still, the team ranks 17th in the league in scoring. That is because they have no other options. Just two other players on the team have more than seven goals and neither of those two players has more than 12. The Jets need some other scoring options to step up or this could be a short playoffs for them. Scoring issues have not been a problem for the Jets as they had finished 7th, 2nd, and 7th in that category the last three seasons. The Jets had a very mediocre season overall as they finished at 37-34 and in 4th place in the Central Division. They were 14 points out of first. Winnipeg 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. Can they keep up the momentum? We shall see.
Connor Hellebuyck will get the nod in this one 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 is 11-12 with a 2.44 GAA in 23 games in the playoffs.
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%.
Calgary Is Hoping For A Good StartThe 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. If they hope to get off to a good start here, they will need help from an offense that struggled to score for most of the year but we do note that they averaged a healthy 4.07 gpg in their final 15 games before the break. Calgary scored at least three goals in every one of those games and were 9-6 in the 15 games. If Calgary can duplicate that kind of offense, then they will have a real shot at picking up a very important win in game one. Elias Lindholm leads the team in goals with 29 while Matthew Tkachuk is 2nd with 23 and Sean Monahan is 3rd with 22.
David Rittich will get the nod in the crease 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.
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%.
- 21-10 in their last 31 games playing on 2 days rest
- 46-22 in their last 68 vs. Pacific
Trends Calgary Is:
- 5-11 in their last 16 games playing on 3 or more days rest
- 0-4 in their last 4 playoff games as a favorite