Golden Knights Potential Playoff Opponent: Calgary Flames
In the leadup to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we're starting a new series here at Vegas Hockey Now<...
In the leadup to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we're starting a new series here at Vegas Hockey Now where we will look at potential teams the Vegas Golden Knights could play in the postseason. While a playoff trip is not yet guaranteed for the VGK, it is much safer to assume this team makes the postseason this year compared to last year.
Standings will fluctuate up until the NHL's last day of the regular season on April 13. So the Golden Knights will not have a set opponent for some time. In the meantime, we can do some speculation on which teams the VGK would match up well against, and which teams they would not.
Today we will look at the Calgary Flames, a team in which the Golden Knights fittingly play tomorrow.
Other Teams Analysis: Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Seattle Kraken.
How it Could Happen: Right now the Flames are not in a playoff spot and are battling for the second wild card spot. If they can sneak in and the Golden Knights remain in first in the West, this would be the matchup. The most likely matchup would be VGK (P1) v CGY (WC2).
2022-23 Season Series: 10/19 3-2 CGY W, 10/23 4-2 VGK W (OT), 3/16 7-2 CGY W, 3/23 @CGY 6:00 p.m.
After a hectic offseason, the Calgary Flames are stuck in mediocrity this season with several players underperforming and the team on the verge of missing the playoffs. If they are able to sneak into the postseason, this is a team we don't see going far into the spring.
Tyler Toffoli leads the team in scoring with a respectable 65 points in 72 games. But big offseason acquisitions Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau have not led the team in the way the Flames had hoped. The losses of Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are haunting this team.
Goaltending has also been an issue all season and Jakob Markstrom has struggled. The Flames are also currently shorthanded on defense with Michael Stone, Olivier Kylington, and Chris Tanev injured.
At the trade deadline, the Flames added Dryden Hunt, Nick Ritchie, and Troy Stecher.
This potential playoff series would be the first-ever meeting between these two teams in the postseason. No players on either current roster have played for both organizations but Brett Howden and Logan Thompson are from Calgary. Mark and Michael Stone are brothers, and there is also the connection that Jonathan Quick, Alec Martinez, Tyler Toffoli, and Darryl Sutter share, being members of Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings teams.
On paper, the Golden Knights are a much better team than the Flames and should take care of them in a potential playoff series. Their offense is more dynamic with Jack Eichel and co. outclassing Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, and Elias Lindholm. On defense, both teams are solid but the Golden Knight's have two truly elite puck-moving defensemen in Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo.
Goaltending is interesting for both teams, but this series screams for a goaltnder that can just get the work
For whatever reason, the Golden Knights have had two of their most ugly games of the season against the Flames in the regular season. In game four of the season, they took six pentlaies in one period, which resulted in a 3-2 loss. Most recently, they got blown out at home in 7-2 loss to the Flames as well.
In our opinion, this might be the best first round matchup for the Golden Knights on paper. The Flames are a borderline playoff team in the West, and the 17th-best team overall in the league. They are not Stanley Cup contenders and we see the VGK eliminating them in a seven-game series.