Edmonton Oilers Potential Playoff Opponents: Calgary Flames

Apr 12, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates his goal with forward Johnny Gaudreau (13) and forward Elias Lindholm (28) against the Seattle Kraken at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates his goal with forward Johnny Gaudreau (13) and forward Elias Lindholm (28) against the Seattle Kraken at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports /
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Edmonton Oilers Forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, #93
Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

I’ve already largely dissected the names for the Oilers here, so I don’t need to go too in depth on that. We all know who Mcdavid, Draisaitl, Kane, Hyman, Puljujarvi, and Yamamoto are.

The Flames counter in their top six with the aforementioned Tkachuk and Gaudreau. Gaudreau right now is LW on the first line, centered by Elias Lindholm with Andrew Mangiapane on the starboard side. These are also three of the four aforementioned guys whose shooting % is all above their career average – and they’ve all been around long enough for us to know what kind of players they are.

If their puck luck runs out by the second round (we can only hope) then that’s certainly a good thing for the Oilers. Silence the big guns and the Flames turn into a much less lethal team.

Tkachuk is playing second line RW right now, with Mikael Backlund at center and Dillon Dube, who was a solid bottom six player for years, moved up to the top six. Dube’s been unimpressive for a top six forward, only putting up 10 goals and 24 points. Backlund’s been….OK this season, but nothing to write home about. He’s been shooting below his career shooting % for two seasons now. 12-23-35 in 73 games is unimpressive for a top six forward, IMO. Dube has put up a new career high in points with 24, but that means the barometer wasn’t set that high to begin with. Unlike the washed up 33 year old Backlund, though, Dube has only played 191 NHL games and is only 23, so he’s still got room to improve. How that stacks up for the playoffs remains to be seen.

The Flames better hope that first line keeps going at the torrid pace it is, otherwise they’re going to have problems scoring come playoff time. The strategy for the Oilers will be thusly – stop the first line and Tkachuk, and you’ll stop the Flames attack.

The Oilers have better depth – probably the best wing corps on both sides of the McDrai duo since, well, ever.

Right now the Flames are playing Tyler Toffoli on the third line, which just seems backwards to me seeing as how he has 11 goals and 20 points in 28 games since being rescued from Montreal. Why are they playing Dillon Dube in the top six and not Toffoli? Something seems fishy about that, but as a fan of a rival I’m delighted to see this.

Calle Jarnkrok, since coming over to Calgary from Seattle at the trade deadline, is centering the Flames third line, and he’s got two assists in eight games since coming over. Not a great start, but not all that unusual. What’s concerning about him, though, is between his time in Seattle and Calgary he’s -16 on the season, a career low for him.

I’m thinking if the Oilers can get one of Mcdavid or Draisaitl matched up with him….they’ll feast on his bad defensive play.

Then there’s Blake Coleman, poached as a free agent from Tampa Bay last offseason. He’s picked up almost right where he left off in Tampa last season, 14-16-30 and a +14, although to be fair that’s one less point from last year and last year he played 17 fewer games to get to that mark than he’s played this season.

Coleman’s a bit snake-bit right now, having not produced much of anything since the beginning of March. Still, I wouldn’t take him for granted as he produced at 0.5 PPG in both of Tampa’s cup wins. He’ll dial it up come playoff time.

The fourth line for the Flames at the right side starts with 35 year old Trevor Lewis, a key bottom six forward for the Kings when they won their Cups in 2012 and 2014. He’s been a good soldier for the Flames, putting up 15 points in 73 games, slightly above the minimum you’d want for a fourth liner. Nonetheless, it’s worth asking how much gas he has left in the tank at 35.

At center is Ryan Carpenter, also a trade deadline acquisition from Chicago. Between Chicago and Calgary, he’s put up three goals and 12 points in 65 games this season. Meh….the Oilers can counter that with Ryan Mcleod who is 30% better this season. Rounding out the fourth line is ex-Oiler Milan Lucic.

Lucic has found his role on the Flames, and has put up the same ~ 20 points he put up in his last season here every season since he was traded. Solid totals for a fourth liner but I’m willing to bet they’re not keen on paying him $5.25 million a year to do it. Look for him to be physical in this series, it’s what he’s known for especially come playoff time.

It’s also worth noting that Sean Monahan is injured at this time, which further takes scoring zip out of the Flames lineup (more or less….)

The Flames calling card is physical play, but the Oilers are a deeper, more skilled team at forward and I believe their talent, depth, and the pestilence of Evander Kane and Zack Kassian (should he choose to actually show up on the ice in this series) will overcome the physicality of the Flames.

Even in the bottom six the Oilers can still outscore the Flames.