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NHL Playoffs Preview 2019: Western Conference

NHL Playoffs Preview 2019: Western Conference

Not a lot to complain about right here. Reverting to the previous playoff format wouldn’t change any matchups within the first-round, however it will have an effect on the seeding shifting ahead. The Predators get the luxuries of being a No.2 seed regardless of posting the third-best document within the convention.

Present Playoff Format Previous Playoff Format
[P1] CGY vs. COL [WC2] [1] CGY vs. COL [8]
[P2] SJS vs. VGK [P3] [2] SJS vs. VGK [7]
[C1] NSH vs. DAL [WC1] [3] NSH vs. DAL [6]
[C2] WPG vs. STL [C3] [4] WPG vs. STL [5]

[P1] Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche [WC2]

Flames Avalanche
RECORD 50-25-7 (third) 38-30-14 (17th)
GF/PG three.52 (third) three.15 (10th)
GA/PG 2.72 (ninth) 2.98 (16th)
5V5 SV% .918 (19th) .923 (ninth)
PP% 19.three% (18th) 22.zero% (seventh)
PK% 79.7% (21st) 78.7% (25th)
CF% 53.83% (fifth) 49.86% (14th)

The Calgary Flames are heavily-favoured in what is clearly probably the most lopsided first-round matchup within the Western Convention. Calgary’s depth upfront and their elite blue-line are the keys to victory over the Avalanche. The Flames’ questionable goaltending must be a moot level on this collection.

On paper, the matchup couldn’t be a lot worse for the Avalanche. They’re a top-heavy staff reliant on Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen (assuming he’s wholesome) beating different groups single-handedly. Calgary, in fact, possesses a powerful first line of their very own, utterly able to going blow for blow with MacKinnon and firm. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Elias Lindholm have dominated the puck at even power all season lengthy. If their manufacturing can nullify that of Colorado’s top-line, this collection might be all however over.

Clearly, the depth of the Avalanche pales compared to that of the Flames. Calgary’s second-line, that includes Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk, and Michael Frolik, is likely one of the greatest checking strains within the NHL. In over 400 minutes collectively at 5v5 this season, the three of them managed 60.19% of the photographs and 58.37% of the scoring possibilities. Flames head coach Invoice Peters can hard-match the Backlund line towards MacKinnon on house ice, permitting Monahan and Gaudreau to run rampant towards the depth of the Avs.


Backside Line: Colorado will want elite goaltending to also have a probability of beating the Flames. The Avs are closely out-matched in each different side of the sport, however Philipp Grubauer’s current run of success suggests they may have the benefit in aim. He ought to have the ability to steal a recreation from the Flames, however it’s arduous to anticipate far more from this underdog.

My Prediction: Flames in 5️⃣

Brock’s Prediction: Flames in 5️⃣

[P2] San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights [P3]

Sharks Golden Knights
RECORD 46-27-9 (sixth) 42-32-7 (16th)
GF/PG three.52 (2nd) three.00 (14th)
GA/PG three.15 (21st) 2.78 (10th)
5V5 SV% .897 (31st) .915 (24th)
PP% 23.6% (sixth) 16.eight% (25th)
PK% 80.eight% (15th) 80.9% (14th)
CF% 54.87% (1st) 54.36% (third)

The Sharks and Golden Knights are set to collide in one of the evenly-matched collection of the first-round. San Jose’s entrance workplace has assembled among the best teams of 18 skaters in the complete league, however they failed to deal with a really apparent weak spot in aim. Martin Jones has performed nicely under common all season lengthy. That the Sharks managed the second-best report within the West regardless of a sub-.900 SV% is a testomony to how good their skaters are. If San Jose once more fails to ship within the post-season it’ll virtually definitely be due to goaltending, and the entrance workplace gained’t have anybody responsible however themselves.

Vegas returns to the post-season after their magical run to the finals a yr in the past with what’s arguably a greater workforce on paper. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith gained’t need to do all of the heavy-lifting this yr because of some key trades and free-agent signings. Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny confirmed an immediate connection firstly of the season, giving the Golden Knights a respectable second line. In fact, their manufacturing and upside have been solely amplified by the acquisition of Mark Stone on the deadline. Stone, Stastny, and Pacioretty have been incredibly-effective at even power, boasting a 57.96 CF% and a 56.44 SCF% in simply over 150 minutes collectively.

San Jose’s top-nine and blue-line are well-equipped to cope with the Golden Knights’ dynamic prime two strains. The Sharks’ league-leading numbers recommend they need to have a slight edge over the Golden Knights at 5v5. San Jose also needs to have the benefit on particular groups. Their PP% of 23.6% is the sixth-best within the NHL, whereas the Golden Knights completed the yr with the league’s seventh-worst power-play at 16.eight%.


Backside line: Goaltending would be the nice equalizer on this first-round matchup. A efficiency from Marc-Andre Fleury just like the .927 SV% he posted in final yr’s playoffs can be sufficient to steal this collection for his workforce. The Sharks clearly have the higher group of skaters, however they’ll want Jones to be league common, on the very least, in the event that they need to make any type of run within the playoffs. Assuming we see a wholesome Erik Karlsson, I just like the Sharks’ probabilities of edging the Golden Knights, nevertheless it’s going to be shut.

  • My Prediction: Sharks in 7️⃣

  • Brock’s Prediction: Golden Knights in 7️⃣

[C1] Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars [WC1]

Predators Stars
RECORD 47-29-6 (seventh) 43-32-7 (15th)
GF/PG 2.88 (19th) 2.55 (28th)
GA/PG 2.59 (4th) 2.44 (2nd)
5V5 SV% .928 (fifth) .935 (2nd)
PP% 12.9% (31st) 21.zero% (11th)
PK% 82.1% (sixth) 82.eight% (fifth)
CF% 52.24% (seventh) 48.32% (22nd)

Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites have to be completely thrilled his group, constructed round a pair of “horseshit” superstars, was capable of sneak into the post-season, however that’s the energy of goaltending. A miraculous season from Ben Bishop propelled Dallas to their first playoff look since 2016 regardless of an apparent lack of depth and sure, an underwhelming marketing campaign from Jamie Benn. Consider it or not, this top-heavy Stars staff is strictly the kind of staff the Predators ought to be nervous about dealing with within the playoffs.

Whereas they continue to be one of many best groups within the NHL at even power, Nashville dramatically underperformed on the man-advantage this season. Regardless of all their expertise and talent, the Preds inexplicably completed with the league’s worst power-play at a dismal 12.9%. Their inefficiencies on particular groups have been masked by excellent 5v5 play and elite goaltending, however it’s not straightforward to make a deep post-season run whenever you’re solely changing on one in every of each eight power-play possibilities.


Backside line: There’s a actual trigger for concern right here for the Predators. If Bishop can ship something near his league-leading .934 SV% on this collection, the Stars may have a critical probability of eliminating Nashville. Boasting the league’s 11th-ranked power-play and fifth-ranked penalty-kill, Dallas ought to have a large benefit on particular groups. It’s exhausting to guess towards a blue-line that options Roman Josi, P.Okay. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis, however in case you’re in search of an upset in spherical one, the Stars are nearly as good of an underdog to guess on as any.

  • My Prediction: Predators in 7️⃣

  • Brock’s Prediction: Predators in 5️⃣

[C2] Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues [C3]

Jets Blues
RECORD 47-30-5 (10th) 45-28-9 (12th)
GF/PG three.29 (seventh) 2.98 (15th)
GA/PG 2.96 (15th) 2.68 (fifth)
5V5 SV% .923 (eighth) .921 (12th)
PP% 24.eight% (4th) 21.1% (10th)
PK% 79.2% (22nd) 81.5% (ninth)
CF% 48.97% (19th) 51.50% (10th)

This yr’s punching bag of the analytics group, the Jets can be put to the last word check in spherical one as they’re set to sq. off towards the Blues. After a dreadful begin to the season, St. Louis rode a exceptional rookie marketing campaign from Jordan Binnington to a 30-10-5 report in 2019, one of the best within the NHL. Since January 1, St. Louis ranks within the prime ten within the NHL in objectives for, objectives towards, PP%, PK%, CF%, and SCF%. They’re as well-rounded as any group within the NHL and a nightmare first-round matchup for the Jets.

By almost all accounts, Winnipeg is a below-average staff this season at 5v5. They’re routinely out-attempted, out-shot, and out-chanced, but they nonetheless managed a 50.61 GF%, thanks largely to the league’s seventh-best PDO. They’ve been bailed out by above-average goaltending and an elite power-play. Whereas it’s labored out for them thus far, it’s not the type of pedigree that Stanley Cup champions are usually comprised of.t


Backside line: The Blues are constructed to win this collection. Binnington has been certainly one of, if not the perfect goaltender within the league since he took over because the starter in early January, and St. Louis’ penalty-kill is greater than able to slowing down the likes of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Patrik Laine. The Jets have to depend on goaltending and the man-advantage to win video games, two areas the place they venture to be out-matched on this collection. There’s a variety of expertise on that group, however on this matchup, they’ll be fortunate to push it to 6 video games.

  • My Prediction: Blues in 6️⃣

  • Brock’s Prediction: Blues in 6️⃣

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Dylan has been an Affiliate Editor of DailyFaceoff since 2018 and a co-host of the DFO Podcast since 2015.

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