Playoff Preview – Pacific Division Analysis

McDavid

Playoff Preview – Pacific Division Analysis

Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

Tale of the Tape: Season Series – Ducks 4-1

The Flames have not won a game in the Honda Centre since January 2004.  Their last playoff matchup occurred during the second round of 2015 and a physically imposing Ducks team ran the Flames out of the playoffs in five games.  To play past five games in 2017’s first round, Brian Elliott will have to stand on his head.  If Elliott can steal a game in Anaheim, the Flames may be able to break through the psychological barrier that has inhabited the Flames’ psyche since 2004.  Anaheim will try to add to the Flame’s futility.

Who to watch:

Anaheim: Corey Perry.  No one fell off the fantasy cliff as badly as Perry did this year.  Whether it was being left off of Team Canada’s roster for the World Cup of Hockey or just father time catching up with him, Perry needs to turn his year around with a strong playoff showing.  Playing on the third line won’t help his cause but some powerplay time might buoy his confidence.
Calgary Flames:  Matthew Tkachuk.  What the Flames were missing in 2015 was some sandpaper and rookie Tkachuk has it in spades.  While he is a threat in the offensive zone, Matthew’s biggest contribution against the Ducks might be his ability to get opposing players off their games.  If he can get under the Duck’s star players’ skin (Getzlaf and Kesler) look for Calgary to receive some powerplays.

Verdict:

The stats do not look good for the Flames but streaks have to end eventually right?  Calgary will stop the losing streak at the Honda Centre but will still lose the series 4-2.

 Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks

Tale of the Tape: Season Series – Edmonton 3-1-1

Art Ross winning Connor McDavid faces off against the beards of San Jose.  One beard, Joe Thornton, will not play in the first game and his timetable for return is unknown.  The excitement in Edmonton for the return of playoff hockey should help the Oilers get off to a strong start in games one and two.  Edmonton need to direct the enthusiasm in the right directions and not run around and play outside of their system.  The Sharks have experience on their side but have played a lot of hockey in the past two years, so if the Oilers can use their speed to their advantage, the Sharks might struggle.

Who to watch:

Edmonton: Jordan Eberle.  As the Sharks key on McDavid’s line, Eberle’s second line should see better matchups.  The line finished the season strong and will be relied upon for much needed secondary scoring if the Oilers are to advance to round two.
San Jose:  Logan Couture.  Coming off of a scary facial injury, Logan Couture will most likely be wearing some sort of face protection to start the series.  With Thornton’s status up in the air, Couture will need to fill the void left by Jumbo Joe.  Couture has speed that can exceed most Oilers players (minus McDavid) and can be a gamebreaker if given space.  Behind Pavelski and Burns, Couture might be the Sharks’ most important player in this first round.

Verdict:

On paper the Oilers look to have the edge but as we all know from watching playoff hockey, there is definitely something to be said about experience.  Look for the Sharks to win in 6 games at home.

~ Paul Wesley