The battle for Canadian supremacy in the NHL doesn’t go to the Senators for a crazy late season surge or the roaring Montreal Canadiens. Instead, it will swiftly go to the victor of the series between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
And here’s why.
Every time that these two clubs have met in the post season — regardless of which round of the playoffs the meeting occurred — the winner of the series has always gone on to be in the Stanley Cup Final.
Now look at this fun fact — both teams aren’t really sure what to expect from each other, let alone their own clubs. Calgary hasn’t been to the playoffs in six years and Vancouver would like to put absolute trust in their goalie situation with Eddie Lack but they know what it’s like to lose after letting confidence get to your head.
Because guess where Robert Luongo, a Vancouver star that got them within a Game 7 win of a Stanley Cup, isn’t playing anymore?
On the Calgary side of things, the most important key for them is not choking during home games. Winning on the road, particularly against a shifty team like Vancouver, won’t be difficult for such a steady team — but keeping up the momentum in their own building, strangely enough, will be the ultimate challenge.
The biggest reason to be excited about this series above all other competition in the Western Conference is the fact that at least one Canadian team will be present in the Conference Semis and could very well get to play a fellow Canadian squad, should the Winnipeg Jets pull off the popular upset pick over the Anaheim Ducks.
Who, by the way, are known for falling apart this time of year.
But as for this match up, it’s justifiable to make your pick by flipping a coin.
Players to Watch:
Daniel Sedin (VAN) : Sedin has been with Vancouver for the long haul. A member of the last trip to the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins (where Luongo was still the goalie), Sedin remembers all too well how close he came to getting his name on hockey’s biggest prize. Expect his leadership and experience to be the x-factor for all of the younger Canucks.
Eddie Lack (VAN) : All Vancouver Canucks fans want from Eddie Lack is all that they can fairly expect — a series victory against a hot, competitive Canadian rival in the first round. Or else. It will be interesting to see how well Lack can actually perform in the hot seat — his future in Vancouver, unfortunately, depends on it.
Jiri Hudler (CGY) : Hudler does more than just dominate in the NHL, he owns the ice — and he knows it. He leads Calgary in the three major categories of points (76), goals (31), and assists (45). He is the reason Calgary makes it or breaks it this year.
Jonas Hiller (CGY) : Hiller had his memories, good and bad, back in Anaheim. Let’s hope he left his bad luck charms back with the Ducks as well.
Prediction: Vancouver’s playoff demons, much like those of the Anaheim Ducks, will be too haunting and too much too handle against a Calgary team that just wants to win. Period.
Flames 4 , Canucks 3