2015 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Round 1

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Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks

Now, we take a look into the battle of Western Canada. One of these non-playoff teams from just a year ago will surely go into the Western Conference Semifinals. The Calgary Flames (P-3) and the Vancouver Canucks (P-2) have had a great historic rivalry over the years, meeting for the 7th time since 1982. In their last meeting, the Flames bested Vancouver in 7 games in the 2003 postseason. You can throw all of those statistics away for what is surely going to be a heated affair between two longtime rivals.

In their season series, we saw a dead split with each team registering two wins. The Canucks won the first two match-ups, followed by Calgary winning the next two. These two teams are very close on paper with Vancouver only having four more points.

These two teams are somewhat riding the same story. When Mark Giordano sustained a torn biceps injury on February 25th it seemed that the Flames season was over. It was determined that Giordano would be out for the remainder of the season, leaving the Flames without their leading scorer and workhorse on the back-end. Everyone had written off the Calgary Flames, as they waited for their eventual demise. This demise never happened.

The Canucks on the other hand had the same issue when Ryan Miller went down with injury on February the 22nd. Most people around the hockey world had expected the Canucks to struggle and possibly miss the postseason. This was not the case as Eddie Lack played very good hockey for the boys in blue. Lack posted a record of 18-13-4 with a 0.921 SV%. At the end of the day, both teams got in.

The main question this series is the Vancouver Canucks goaltending situation. Eddie Lack is expected to start the series for the Canucks, but Ryan Miller is waiting in the wings. Miller came back just in time for the playoffs and played the Canucks final game. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Canucks will go with Miller if Lack struggles early in the series. The Flames on the other hand have their own goaltending dilemma. Both Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller have played very well for the Flames, with Hiller seeing more starts down the stretch. It’s also expected that Hiller will get the start, granted he has more playoff experience and success.

It’s also difficult to talk about the Flames and not note the super play of the Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler line. On the other side of the coin, you have the Sedin twins and Radim Vrbata leading the way.

These two teams are dead-even on paper and on the ice. In what I think will be a seven game series, I’m going to go with experience over youth. The Canucks find a way to take out the pesky Flames in a classic seven game series. Canucks in seven.