Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets
Game 1: Saturday, August 1st, 9:30 P.M. CDT (NBCSN)
This is the only qualifying round matchup that features two Canadian teams. You can bet that both sides will be primed and ready to go.
Tkachuk is a fast skater with some fancy shots who tends to get under other player’s skin to try to draw them into a penalty. He will have to keep his antics in check so that he doesn’t get his team into penalty trouble.
The Flames will be looking to redeem themselves in these playoffs. In the past five years, they have made the playoffs twice only to suffer first-round exits.
The Jets are looking to make a splash in the playoffs as well. Like the Flames, they have only been in the playoffs twice in the past five years, but did make it to the conference finals in 2018.
The Jets are relying on goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck and their defense to help carry them to victory. Hellebuyck goes into the qualifying round with a .922 save percentage.
The Jets offensive weapons will need to match the Flame’s speed, intensity, and physicality. Kyle Connor had a great year, scoring 38 goals. Mark Scheifele and Patrick Laine are no slouches, netting 29 and 28 goals, respectively. They will need to keep their focus and not let Tkachuk and the other Flames provoke them into penalties.
This matchup could go either way. Both teams are more than capable of scoring goals, but Hellebuyck may be the deciding factor.