The Calgary Flames were quickly, and sadly, removed from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by an overpowering Anaheim Ducks team on April 19, in the late hours of the day. In fact, no one really knew that the Flames were even present, it was a silent removal. In a league of parity, this series had one of the highest likelihood’s of finishing in a sweep especially considering the Flames blatant inability to win Anaheim.
The Flames barely squeaked into the playoffs, taking one of the two wildcard spots of the Western Conference. You knew it was bad karma when one of their big wins leading into their playoff clinching party came against the Los Angeles Kings and local living legend Jarome Iginla. In the end, the Flames were tied with the Nashville Predators, who received the other spot. The Flames would likely have preferred the Chicago Blackhawks to the Ducks as a round one opponent. The flaming C’s were on life support before they stepped onto the ice of Game 1; the flat-line came around during Game 4.
While all four games were decided by two goals or less, there were key factors that led to the Flames’ demise. Johnny Gaudreau was not producing at all. After a 61 point season (18 G, 43 A), “Johnny Hockey” only had two points in the four games; both points were assists.
Brian Elliot was also not up-to-standard, allowing an average of 3.89 goals per game, as well as a .880 Save Percentage. Last year was a much better playoff series for him, where the St. Louis Blues made it to the Western Conference Finals. Heading into free agency and being pulled after the first goal of game four, here is what is seemingly Elliott’s last moments as a Flame.
In head coach Glen Gulutzan’s first season with the Flames, a fourth place finish in the tough Pacific Division, as well as a playoff appearance cannot be frowned upon. He replaced Bob Hartley, who coached the team from 2012-2016; Gulutzan is hoping to give the Flames a breath of new life, now starting next season.
No injuries plagued the Flames during the playoffs, but by the way they were playing, the injury of having physical and strong play was apparent. They couldn’t hold a lead, shown obviously in Game 3, where the Flames were up 4-2 at the end of the second period, and gave up three goals to lose 5-4 in overtime.
The Ducks mainly relied on John Gibson for the four game sweep, but he was pulled in Game 3, allowing Jonathan Bernier some playing time. It worked, as they won. Ryan Getzlaf led the team with 5 points (3 G, 2 A). As a whole the Ducks kept the Flames in the defensive zone, and ultimately taught many valuable lessons to youngsters like Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland and Matthew Tkachuk.
With the end of the Flames season, their light was extinguished. In lieu of flowers, the team’s front office is accepting matches to hopefully get a brighter season next year. The Ducks will move on to face the winner of the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers series.