Today’s the day. The Flames face off against the Jets for their first game in the winner-gets-to-play-actual-playoff-hockey series.
We’ve covered what might be expected in depth, from analysing how the Jets performed at even strength, to comparing the Flames expected goal differentials to the Jets, and covered general musings about what to watch for as the Flames head into the qualifiers.
With one more chance to compare the two teams before the puck drops, let’s take a look at how the Flames and the Jets have fared with team stats at even strength and with special teams. Using stats from NaturalStatTrick, we can see which team has the edge heading into the series.
By comparing a set of stats in aggregate in different game states, we can get a better sense of how these teams have played throughout the season, and can use some of this information to predict what’s to come.
5v5 score-and-Venue Adjusted Percentages
The Flames are the better team at 5v5 SVA, but comparatively suffered when it came to puck luck. Despite showing that they control the puck more and create more chances, the Jets actually had better performances when it comes to scoring more, better shooting percentages, and better goaltending.
Take: If the Flames keep the game at even strength, they can outplay the Jets and be rewarded for it. Calgary is a better team at evens and can excel against the Jets in this situation.
Power Play Percentages
Similar to 5v5 SVA, the Flames seemingly had a better on-ice power play product than the Jets. However, a few hiccups in their power play structures led to more shorthanded goals against, as the Jets have a superior GF%. For the Flames to have low values in both GF% and HDGF%, it suggests that their opponents often get scoring chances and are able to convert.
Take: The Flames’ power play can be a potent source of offence, especially with their current units. Both units will have to tighten up their passes though, as they are a team that can not afford to give their opponent shorthanded breaks.
All things considered, the Flames and Jets are quite similar when shorthanded. A couple things the stand out are the differences in HDCF% versus HDGF%. While the Jets seem to get more shorthanded chances than the Flames, Calgary seems to convert more on theirs. Another noteworthy stat is that the Flames have a better save percentage on the penalty kill. It makes sense as the Flames penalty kill was eighth in the league while the Jets’ was 22nd.
Take: Travis Hamonic opting out of the postseason is a big blow for the Flames’ penalty kill. They’ll have a big void to fill in his absence and it would be best if the team stays out of the box.
What does this tell us?
Overall, these two teams are setup for a classic battle. With the prolonged rest and all the work that’s gone into the Return To Play all while not technically even making the playoffs yet, neither team should hold anything back and that will make for a very heated series. Both have lots to prove and neither wants to hang their skates up early.
In a brief look at the stats, the Flames are the better team. Despite that, this series does feel like it could be a coin toss. Both sides probably have their worries, but the Flames really have one main one named Connor Hellebuyck. Hockey wisdom will tell you that a hot goaltender can win the Cup for his team, and the Flames start their post-season against a goalie that fits that description all too well.
It’s been a theme for all the talk heading into the series. Hellebuyck has stolen the spotlight in terms of being the Jets’ MVP but also potentially being the Flames’ kryptonite. All that’s left to do is to wait and see what happens.