NHL executives thumb their noses at the Leafs, name Calgary as Canada's best chance at a Cup

Published April 25, 2022 at 4:26 PM
BY AUSTIN
The Calgary Flames are the backed Canadian horse going into the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, according to Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic.

Several NHL executives have reportedly deemed the Flames as being Canada's best hope, which doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Calgary has enjoyed an amazing season so far under the hard but results-driven coaching of Darryl Sutter, on route to 108 points for first place in the Pacific Division.

Along with a gritty style and tough demeanor that encapsulates playoff hockey, Calgary's playmakers, defense, goaltending, and depth make them a very viable option for such predictions in the playoffs.

Stars Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have put up career seasons to date in goals/points, Andrew Mangiapane has enjoyed a showing-out party, while secondary additions such as Tyler Toffoli and Calle Järnkrok have been on fire since being brought in before the trade deadline. The Flames' defensive core has also been exceptionally stable, with the offensive surplus provided from Oliver Kylington and re-emergence for Christopher Tanev. The Flames then added more bite when dealing for the heavy-hitting Nikita Zadorov opposite to blue-line staple Rasmus Andersson.


The biggest storyline for the Flames' dream season though is undoubtedly Jacob Markström who has played out-of-this-world good all year, and commits Grand Larceny on opposing players on an almost nightly basis. With a 2.21 GAA, .922 SV%, and 9 shutouts on 62 games played, Markström has made himself the shoe-in candidate for the Vezina trophy this season if it wasn't for a guy named Igor Shesterkin over in New York.

If the Flames can keep their fire going, they'll be roaring into the playoffs with a top guy at one of the most valuable positions, and a system designed to beat the opponent down while allowing their skill to play out. Definitely a dangerous formula to go against.

Let's call a spade a spade here, though.. The Calgary Flames are coming out of the Pacific Division. The Leafs have the misfortune of having to run the gauntlet against the likes of the Atlantic Division and the Metropolitan Division in order to get to the dance. I don't think there's any question that the Leafs are the better team, but, without a doubt, Calgary does have the easier path.

Per: The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun
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