2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1: Flames v Stars
It’s time for meaningful hockey. Everything you’ve done up to this point is null and void. It’s served its purpose and has disappeared into the wilderness. Whether you were the number one seed or the number eight seed means nothing. Let’s get ready to rumble in the (Vegas-less) 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Calgary Flames face the Dallas Stars in round one.
Hands up who had the Flames winning the Pacific Division!?!? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s not that the Flames have been that much of a shock, it’s just most would have had the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers one and two in the division before the season started. Instead, the Flames have comfortably taken the number one spot with standout performances from Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm who all had 40+ goal seasons. The form of Jacob Markstrom in the net also played its part.
However, the X-Factor for the Calgary Flames may be head coach Daryl Sutter. Always available for a sound bite or two, Suter has the added advantage of having led a team to the promised land before. He’ll know what is needed from each player and it will be now on them to perform. There’s no doubt with the likes of Milan Lucic and Tkachuk they’ll be able to play the hard-hitting antagonist hockey Sutter will want but will it be successful?
The Stars are the only team with a negative regular-season goal differential. Apart from the LA Kings, all the other 14 teams were in the positive with double digits. The line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Joe Pavelski took on most of the heavy lifting with 105 goals between them. Only one other player, minus the three mentioned, had a plus 20-goal season for the Stars as Tyler Seguin netted 27 times.
There is also the x-factor of Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood having never started a playoff game between them. Oettinger has two relief appearances in which he faced 8 shots total, while at 29 years old this will be Wedgewood’s first post-season experience. Both performed admirably during the season with Oettinger posting a .914SV% in 48 games and Wedgewood posting a .919SV% in 8 appearances since his trade from the Arizona Coyotes. Can the inexperienced tandem take that form into the playoffs?
This will be Calgary’s fifth visit to the playoffs in the past 13 seasons, with their last three appearances being fleeting as they failed to make it past the first round. For this Flames team to be considered in any way dangerous that needs to end this year. The magnificent seasons from Gaudreau and Tkachuk will mean nothing if they fall at the first hurdle yet again.
And we all know how much Dallas likes to play spoiler. It was only two years ago this team was in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The inexperienced goaltending tandem will raise some questions, but there is no doubt the Stars have the manpower to cause an upset once again in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Prediction: Dallas wins in 7
Oddly Specific Prediction: Roope Hintz will have more points than Johnny Gaudreau in the series.