The 2017/18 season will go down as a season of promise for the Calgary Flames. Plenty of potential but when the going got tough, the Flames did not get going. With one win in their last 10 National Hockey League games, Calgary have crumbled at the business end of the campaign and restoring some pride is now the main aim for Glen Gulutzan’s side.
Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights are still in with a chance of lifting the Stanley Cup in their first year as a professional organisation. It would be some story if Vegas, currently 9/1 with 888sport, could win the showpiece series but just reaching the playoffs is a fantastic achievement. The Pacific Division champions will be hoping for more success in the coming months…
This one isn’t going to be a classic unfortunately. With the Golden Knights already secure in a playoff berth, Vegas may opt to rest a few of their biggest names. At the other end of the spectrum, Calgary are in holiday mode and it is hard to place too much faith in the Flames at this moment in time. It won’t be a classic – the visitors will want to win as they look to build momentum ahead of the postseason.
Calgary Collapse To Continue Here?
Flames fans are still scratching their heads and thinking ‘what if’ after their recent struggles – Calgary were well placed to notch a playoff spot less than four weeks ago. Heads will roll in the organisation and Gulutzan could be the first to lose his position as head coach.
Winning this weekend will help to win a few fans over but there is a general feeling of anger and frustration at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary had so much potential this year but the Flames have capitulated at the pivotal moment. Expect wholesale changes throughout the summer.
KEY MAN: Johnny Gaudreau. Calgary’s poor run of form has had a negative effect on the entire roster – even Gaudreau has failed to inspire confidence. Currently some way clear of his teammates with 82 points this season, Gaudreau has been Calgary’s shining light in 2017-18 but he has now gone five games without a point.
Sean Monahan deserves a hat tip here; the Flames centre leads the team with 31 goals. This could be make or break for a few of Calgary’s big names – it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see some players traded away in the offseason.
Vegas Looking To Shine In Postseason
The Golden Knights fell short against the Edmonton Oilers last time out but Vegas still head into this clash on the back of six wins in 10 games. Preparing for the playoffs is now the top priority for Gerard Gallant’s side and victory here could give the franchise a huge boost.
KEY MAN: William Karlsson. Karlsson has been simply sublime in recent weeks, scoring nine points in his previous five appearances – three goals and six assists. The 25-year-old leads the Golden Knights in points and he will be key in this fixture.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Karlsson has a unique way of popping up with a huge goal when Vegas are shorthanded. The Golden Knights have scored eight goals in this position; Karlsson has four of those. That says a lot about his ability to produce a game-winning play on the big stage.
Backing against Calgary seems wise at this stage of the season. The Flames will want to go out with a win but their recent form makes it impossible to back them. Vegas could run riot if Gallant lets his side go for the jugular.
FLAMES 2-4 GOLDEN KNIGHTS