2019 Stanley Cup playoffs: Flames vs. Avalanche series preview, pick

The Flames missed the playoffs last season after making them in 2016-17 for one primary reason: offense. They had a 2.63 goals per game average, ranking them 27th in the league. So GM Brad Treliving got to work. He fired head coach Glen Gulutzan and replaced him with former Carolina coach Bill Peters. He made a blockbuster trade, moving defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Hurricanes with Micheal Ferland and the rights to Adam Fox for defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm. He signed Derek Ryan and James Neal (although the less said about that latter signing, the better).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

These changes, along with career years from Johnny Gaudreau (99 points) and Matthew Tkachuk (34 goals), helped the Flames to be the league’s third-best offense, at 3.52 goals per game. Their Mark Giordano-led defense was good enough in front of their below-average goaltending to win them the Pacific.2

The Avalanche had a more complicated path to the postseason, clinching their wild-card spot in the last days of the regular season. They did so on the back of goalie Philipp Grubauer, acquired last summer from the Capitals, who went 8-1-2 down the stretch and gave up more than two goals just once in that span. While depth is not a word associated with these Avs, they do boast one of the best lines in hockey when the group is together and healthy. Can they muster up enough pop to keep pace with Calgary?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog played 841 minutes together at even strength and dominated: 46 goals, a goals-for percentage of 61.33 and a 54.56 scoring chance percentage. But Calgary’s Sean Monahan, Gaudreau and Lindholm were nearly as potent offensively in 823 minutes, with 52 goals, a 59.77 goals-for percentage and 52.56 percent of scoring chances. They were also a little better defensively, thanks in no small part to Lindholm joining up. It’s close, but we’ll still give the nod to MacKinnon’s group.