Calgary is faced with a similar situation as last year heading into the 2022 BEARD Hockey Playoffs; but will anyone see them as a true underdog?
After limping into the playoffs last year and then surprising many by winning their first round series against the heavily favored Kings, Calgary eventually ran out of gas and was knocked out by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers.
Now, the Flames are once again first round underdogs, this time against a very strong Vegas Knights team. When asked how he sees this series playing out, Calgary coach Bob “The Boogieman” Boughner had little to say other than, “Who are you?” and “How did you get in my office?”
Last season, the Flames were very much a score and win by committee type team. There were many over achievers on that team and most of the players bought into the rallying cry of “Kill them! Kill them with fire!”. In hindsight, perhaps a less violent call to arms would have been more appropriate but “people got the point”, said Calgary GM Theo Pepper.
This year, Calgary led the league in Goals Against and that surely is the biggest reason for their record, as the team finished at 50-27-5. This was not a team that most saw as a top defensive group but strong goaltending from soon to be free agent, Linus Ullmark, plus a group of mobile and serviceable defensemen on the back end proved to be a winning combination for Calgary.
Of course, a team still needs to score and there were definitely some standouts in that department. Mike Hoffman led the team in points (81) and after Johnny Gaudreau went down with an injury, Hoffman made use of his experience and led the team the rest of the way.
If Calgary can find a way to get past VGK and into the second round, Gaudreau is expected to be back and ready to go.
When asked for one final quote on this series, Coach Boughner said, “Get out or I’ll call security!”. Ah, truer words have never been uttered, coach. Really something to ponder as we get ready for the post season and all that that brings.