The Calgary Flames finished their regular season by splitting a home-and-home series with the Edmonton Oilers, while watching the Canucks win their final 2 games to claim 1st in the Northwest Division. The Flames will need to be more than spectators to beat the Chicago Blackhawks when the Western Conference Quarterfinals start later this week.
The Blackhawks and Flames played 4 times during the regular season and the Blackhawks won all 4 games, including the last one in overtime. Chicago is heading to the postseason for the first time in 7 years, and despite their lack of playoff experience, the youngsters will be fired up.
Calgary will have to stop the always potently-offensive Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Martin Havlat. They will also have to find a way to beat their playoff “nemesis” Nikolai Khabibulin aka “The Bulin Wall” who was a major part of Tampa Bay’s team when they faced the Flames in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. Add Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith on defence and the Hawks have a good team that will surely challenge the Flames.
Calgary will need to find a way to score some powerplay goals if they are to succeed. They went 0-for-41 in their last 10 games of the season. History has proven that proficient special teams are necessary for playoff success and, despite the fact that Calgary has one of the better penalty killing units in the league, they have a lot of work to do on the powerplay.
The Flames will also need their big guns to step up to the plate if they want to make it further than the first round this year. You can expect Jarome Iginla to score some goals, but Mike Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen, and Daymond Langkow will also need to put some pucks in the net. The Flames have lots of playoff experience and will need to draw upon this to get beyond the Blackhawks.
The series schedule should be published sometime later today or tomorrow.