The Calgary Flames will lock up with the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The clubs haven’t met in the post-season since 1981, when the Stars were the North Stars of Minnesota and the Flames were in their first playoffs. They met in the semifinals and the North Stars took the victory in six.
A lot has changed since the days of Kenta Nilsson and the Flames, but lack of history shouldn’t matter much when Rogers Place gets to rocking.
Calgary enters the cycle having handled the Winnipeg Jets, while the Stars went 1-2-0 during the round robin. They dumped games to Vegas and Colorado by a collective score of 9-3, so that may excite Flames fans.
And Calgary delivered the goods with a balanced attack from their forward lines, with an average of four goals per game against the Jets with 11 different scorers.
But the Stars are among the stingiest teams in the NHL when things are going their way, which should make this a low-scoring situation. Dallas finished second in the NHL with a 93.3 save percentage, allowing just 174 goals against in the regular season – also second overall.
In the round robin, the Stars fell apart. They allowed 36.5 shots against per game, well below their standard.
That may tell the story of this confrontation, with Dallas not likely to score their way out of trouble if the D doesn’t hold.
The good news, if you’re a Stars fan, is that the Flames aren’t exactly lighting the lamp either. Calgary put in 204 goals this season, 20th overall. Their save percentage put them in the middle of the pack and their defence is sturdy enough if not quite as effective as Dallas’.
There may be a problem, as Stars goalie Ben Bishop – along with forward Tyler Seguin – missed Sunday’s game and are listed as day-to-day. Dallas leans on Bishop and will need a Plan B if he’s not ready.
The Flames played a lunch-bucket style and took the body to Winnipeg. Milan Lucic was a key contributor and he’s on a four-game point streak. He dropped the mitts in Game One and has the most playoff experience on his squad.
Fans of physical, low-scoring, defence-first hockey will find puck nirvana in this series. Everyone else? Not so much.
Game One goes down Tuesday at 2:30 Pacific.