The Toronto Maple Leafs start their play-in series this weekend, along with 15 other teams.
On Sunday, we will finally get to see the Toronto Maple Leafs in action, as they will begin their series vs the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The #7 and 8 seeds in the East and West are beginning to look more like legitimate playoff contenders, including the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stats are courtesy of Hockey Reference.
A Look at the Competition
(8) Calgary Flames
The Flames had 79 points in the regular season, one ahead of Vancouver, but did so in one extra game, so they fall to the #8 seed, based on points percentage. Calgary had a negative goal differential, scoring 204 while giving up 214.
The team boasts reliable special teams units, ranking 12th on the power play and 10th on the penalty kill. They are the epitome of league average in puck possession, finishing 15th in Corsi For % and 16th in Fenwick For %. (All stats naturalstattrick.com).
Calgary has a solid top six at forward with five guys posting at least 45 points and missing a combined one game. Matthew Tkachuk led the way with 61 points, while Elias Lindholm was tops on the team with 29 goals.
The defense is excellent, led by their top pairing of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson both chipped in 22 points this season, and all three pairings are strong.
Goaltending is where the Flames are shaky. David Rittich started 48 games in the regular season and posted a .907 SV% to go with a 2.97 GAA. Cam Talbot had better stats over his 22 starts, but it will be Rittich’s crease.
Being the eighth seed sounds about right for the Flames. Their play in series against Winnipeg seems like a coin flip, and I could see a wide range of outcomes. Goaltending will likely be the difference, and in that case, Winnipeg has a considerable edge.