Mailbag: Flames have ingredients for Cup race, Scheifele’s Jets future

Who is the best Canadian team in the playoffs? — @PrairieAgMF

I picked the Calgary Flames to win the Stanley Cup and end Canada’s 29-year Stanley Cup drought. So very clearly, I think the answer to your question is the Flames. They have all the ingredients for a long playoff streak, some of which was on display in their 1-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round on Tuesday.

High-end score? To verify.

Johnny Gaudreau (40), Matthew Tkachuk (42) and Elias Lindholm (42) have each scored at least 40 goals. Gaudreau (115) and Tkachuk (104) each had over 100 points. André Mangiapane scored 35 goals.

It’s no surprise that Lindholm, Tkachuk and Gaudreau combined for Calgary’s only goal in Game 1.

Goalie ? To verify.

Jacob Markstrom posted a 37-15-9 record with a 2.22 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and nine shutouts. He tied for fourth in wins, third in GAA, third in save percentage and first in shutouts. Markstrom is my pick for the Conn Smythe Trophy voted Stanley Cup Playoff MVP. He got off to a good start with a 16-save shutout in Game 1 against Dallas.

Special teams? To verify.

The Flames finished 10th in powerplay (22.9%) and sixth in shorthandedness (83.2%) in the regular season. They scored seven shorthanded goals and allowed three.

Unsurprisingly, they scored on the power play and were 5-5 on the PK in Game 1.

Management? To verify.

Flames coach Darryl Sutter, two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014), has won the support of all his players. The Flames play the same way Sutter played the Kings by emphasizing puck possession as their best way to defend and not stifle the best offensive players in a crushing game. They are free to play their style with the puck as long as they keep it. Surpassing Dallas 26-16 and owning a 53-38 advantage in total shot attempts in Game 1 is proof of that.

Video: CGY@MIN: Gaudreau opens the scoring with his 40th goal

Why choose Capitals? — @peterhassett

To be different.

No, that’s not really the reason, even though I was the only one of 16 writers and editors to choose the Washington Capitals to upset the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Conference Association. ‘East. Granted, that’s a long shot, but maybe not quite as long after the Capitals’ 4-2 win in Game 1 on Tuesday. It’s only one game, so you won’t see me gloating here. But I chose the Capitals because I like the experience advantage they have on the ice and with coach Peter Laviolette. I love Alex Ovechkinability to change a game in one fell swoop. I like this Thomas Wilson can impact a game with his physique and attack. I don’t like that he left Game 1 with a lower body injury. They have good center depth with Yevgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller. There’s a lot to like about the Capitals, despite their last week of the regular season. They were 16-5-3 and scoring 3.83 goals per game from March 3 to April 24 before dropping three in a row in regulation.

Choosing capitals was also linked to questions about the Panthers. I know the Panthers can score, but can they keep the puck out of the net enough that they don’t need to score five goals to win playoff games? It’s rare for a team to score four or five per game in the playoffs. They had a 2-1 lead early in the third period of Game 1 and couldn’t hold it. Meanwhile, they led the NHL with 11 third-period wins and that’s not something they can count on in the playoffs. It’s harder to rally around the top teams when they start to hold a one or two goal lead. Can the Panthers take an early lead and hold it? They couldn’t in game 1. Can they play a lockout style? Suspect in Game 1. If they can find out, they could win the Stanley Cup. Otherwise, the Capitals will advance.

Yes Marc Scheifele leaves the Winnipeg Jets, which teams does it make sense for him to go to? — @mikeglangford

What we do know about Scheifele’s situation is that the 29-year-old striker has two years left on an eight-year, $49m deal and he said he wanted an idea of ​​the future direction. Jets. Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Monday that Scheifele had not requested a trade, but needed to speak to him for clarification on the situation. The Jets will soon have to decide Scheifele’s future with them. His $6.125 million NHL salary cap is a boon to the production he gave the Jets in the first six seasons of his contract, scoring 432 points (172 goals, 260 assists) in 415 games. He is the 16th NHL scorer since the 2016-17 season, the first of his contract. Scheifele has 70 points (29 goals, 41 assists) in 67 games this season, but he’ll be 31 when he’s due to sign his next contract and he might want a contract that carries a higher cap charge if he continues. to produce at a point-per-pace of play. If the Jets have reservations about giving a forward in his 30s his biggest AAV yet, they should be proactive and trade him when his value is at its most high, that is, before it became a rental acquisition in the 2023-24 season last year. of his contract.

Video: COL@WPG: Scheifele passes through the defense and takes a corner

New York Rangers could be on the hunt for a center like Scheifele if they can’t re-sign Ryan Strome, who is an unrestricted free agent pending. The Pittsburgh Penguins could look for a center if Yevgeny Malkin goes to free agency. Malkin a UFA pending, although I think he will re-sign. Watch out for the Boston Bruins. Patrice BergeronThe future of is in question with the 36-year-old center waiting for UFA. But even if Bergeron returns, the Bruins never replaced David Krejci, their former No. 2 center who left after last season to play in his native Czech Republic, so Scheifele could fill a big need in Boston. Philadelphia Flyers could see Scheifele as replacement for Claude Giroux, who they traded to the Panthers before the 2022 NHL trade deadline. The Seattle Kraken are loaded with draft picks, including five in the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL Draft, and that could intrigue the Jets as well. . Scheifele would instantly become Seattle’s No. 1 center.

How different will the Vegas Golden Knights roster look next season given their cap constraints and failure to meet expectations this season? — @tealforreal_96

It will be different because it cannot be the same. Even Vegas’ dream roster wasn’t possible this season because of the salary cap. It never materialized due to injuries but there will be changes before next season as there needs to be changes for capping purposes.

Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark are awaiting UFA. Both could be gone. Smith is the favorite of the two to re-sign, but someone else would have to go to make that happen. It could be forward Evgeni Dadonov, who next season would be in the final year of his contract which carries a $5 million cap charge. Vegas tried to trade Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks before the deadline, but that was overturned by the NHL, which said the Golden Knights failed to meet the terms of the league’s no-trade clause. ‘attacker. They could go back on a Dadonov trade in the offseason. Maybe they are considering swapping the goalkeeper Robin Lehner, who has three seasons left on his five-year, $25 million contract and who just underwent shoulder surgery. Seems like a long time for Vegas to be without a veteran goalie, but Logan Thompson has been solid this season, going 10-5-3 with a 2.68 GAA and .914 save percentage. Maybe the Golden Knights can trade Lehner, save $5 million off the cap and go with Thompson and Laurent Broissoit in hopes one of them emerges as No. 1.

Prospects for the Buffalo Sabers next season? — @kevin_malley

There’s reason for optimism in Buffalo after the way the Sabers finished, going 16-9-3 in 28 games from March 2 to the end of the season. Their 0.625 point percentage during that span was tied for 12th. Prior to that, they were 16-30-8 with a .370 point percentage (29th). I’m going to quit saying the Sabers should or could be a playoff team next season. As we see now, there’s a good chance their playoff drought will span 12 years, but that’s without any knowledge of what they’ll be up to in the offseason, potential roster upgrades that they could bring. The Sabers need to find a No. 1 goaltender and fill their depth throughout the roster. Adding a top center should be a priority.

The good news is that the Sabers have moved in the right direction after several years of starting strong and going the other way without the ability to redirect their course. They did so with what appears to be a thriving young core of players that they could finally retain and develop.

Owen Power19, and Rasmus Dahlin22, will be a feared top two in defense for a long time. Tagus Thompson scored 38 goals. The 24-year-old striker has improved over the season which is important for his development. Victor Olofsson scored 20 goals and the 26-year-old striker is expected to score at least that many, if not more next season. Dylan Cozens (38 points in 79 games) and Jack Quinn (two points in two games) will improve and become impact players. Cozens is 21 years old. Quinn is 20 years old. Alex Tuch scored 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) in 50 games after the 25-year-old forward was acquired from the Golden Knights in the trade which sent Jack Eichel in Las Vegas. Peyton Krebs, 21, has also arrived in this trade and the forward has scored 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 48 games.

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