Eight out of eight NHL execs interviewed by The Athletic believe the Flames are Canada’s best bet at the Stanley Cup
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis7 months ago
It’s been nearly 30 years since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup.
The last team to do so was the Montreal Canadiens, who took down Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings in 1993. Since then, the Vancouver Canucks went to the Final twice, the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Ottawa Senators all did so in consecutive seasons, and the Montreal Canadiens went on a Cinderella run last year, but all of them came up short.
This year, Canada’s hopes rest on the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven’t been out of the first round since the year that Facebook was launched, and the two Alberta teams.
Which of these teams is the best bet to get the job done? Over at The Athletic, Pierre LeBrun talked to eight anonymous NHL executives (none of which work in Edmonton, Calgary, or Toronto’s front office) in order to get their pick for the Canadian team most likely to win the Stanley Cup.
All eight of them said that the Flames were the best bet, as they have the strength of an elite goaltender, good scoring depth, strong team defence, and a veteran coach who has won twice. Both Edmonton and Toronto were tagged for having poor defensive depth and inconsistent goaltending, while it was also pointed out that the Leafs have a very difficult run because of their division.
There was quite a bit of talk about the possible Battle of Alberta in the second round that’s on the horizon, but everyone chose Calgary in a head-to-head over Edmonton.
“I think Edmonton has a lot of holes, and when it goes wrong, it can go really wrong. They obviously have some offensive wizards, but the forwards aren’t committed defensively. The lack of back pressure puts the defensemen in a tough spot. The defensemen aren’t good enough to end plays without that support. So the team ends up in its own end, where the forwards struggle. And they don’t have the kind of goalie who can bail you out when it’s not going well. If teams are afraid of their top end and get conservative, that won’t go well, but I don’t know if the forwards will get the puck enough to outscore their problems against a team that stays aggressive.With Calgary, it’s the opposite. The two-way game from the forwards has done a lot to protect and cover for some defensemen who I’m not completely sold on. I don’t think they have more than one guy who would be in the top four for Tampa or Colorado, and I’d be afraid of getting exposed at some point. But they are very well-coached, and so far they have been able to make things easy for the defensemen. And they do have a goalie who can bail you out. They’ll be a tough out.”
The Oilers and Flames split their four meetings this season, with the home team winning each game. A seven-game playoff series between these two teams would be absolutely electric.
What say you, Nation? How do you feel about these NHL executives having this much faith in the Flames? Do you agree? Or will the Oilers take the Flames down in the playoffs? Let us know!
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