NHL playoffs handicappers cannot be impressed with how Calgary faded down the stretch against the hockey odds. The Calgary Flames enter the NHL playoffs on a somber note as they limped home with a mark of 7-11 against the hockey odds in their final 18 games to blow the northwest division title and the home ice advantage that would have come with it.
Defense was the big problem for Calgary all season and is their number one cause for concern entering the NHL playoffs. The Flames ranked just 23rd in the NHL for overall defense as goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff had a mediocre .903 save percentage and comparably high 2.84 goals against average.
He is a workhorse, however, and posted 45 of Calgary’s 46 wins for the season. Offense is the key strength for the Flames entering the NHL playoffs. Calgary ranked 7th overall in the NHL for scoring and was led by all star right winger and team captain Jarome Iginla, who had 35 goals and 54 assists.
Left wing Michael Cammalleri had 39 goals and 43 assists as the Flames other key weapon. Calgary lacks offensive depth, however, as the next best scorer, Daymond Langkow, had just 21 goals and 28 assists. This lack of offensive depth will be a problem against Chicago in the NHL playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks enter action for the NHL playoffs as one of the better balanced teams in the league. The high flying Hawks ranked 4th overall in the NHL for offense and 5th overall on defense.
Chicago is the 4-seed in the west for the NHL playoffs and finished the regular season with strong momentum as they posted 9 payoffs in their final 12 games. Chicago is a deeper team than Calgary with a strong list of offensive weapons for the NHL playoffs.
The Hawks trio of right wings Martin Havlat and Patrick Kane, along with center Jonathan Toews, is one of the most impressive in the league. Havlat had 29 goals and 48 assists, Kane had 25 goals and 45 assists, while Toews had 34 goals and 35 assists. Chicago has two capable goaltenders in Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.
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