Question #2 – In terms of teams in the Pacific Division, which team could give the Calgary Flames the most trouble and why?
Jonathan Boulanger – The Oilers and The Ducks. The two teams Flames fans probably hate the most in the NHL. The Oilers because they are a team on the rise with some renewed confidence after being one win away from the conference final this past season. With Connor McDavid, anything is possible. They also have a solid goaltender and respectable D-core. The Ducks are, well, the Ducks. The Flames have not been able to exercise their demons against this pesky team. Also, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler always seem to bring their A game against the Flames and completely dominate. That being said, I believe the Flames can absolutely compete and beat the Ducks and Oilers this season.
Tomas Oppolzer – Edmonton. They have the best player in the division (arguably best in the league) in Connor McDavid and they have the best goaltender in the division. Cam Talbot should have been in the Vezina conversation last season and if Laurent Brossoit can step in and be an effective back-up they’ll be a tough team to compete against. One key factor to remember though Is they’ll be missing Andrej Sekera. If Calgary can take advantage of that early on it could help them get a good head-start on their provincial rivals.
Benjamin Prokopy – The Edmonton Oilers, with honorable mention to the Anaheim Ducks.
Last year, Edmonton swept the season series. I don’t think it will be a sweep this year. But the Battle of Alberta will be a battle again. On the scoreboard, the additions of Ryan Strome and Jussi Jokinen should give the Oilers scoring and better possession respectively. Off the scoreboard, and I REALLY hate to say this, I think the Oilers are tougher. Milan Lucic, Zack Kassian and Darnell Nurse are big and irritating. Micheal Ferland is no slouch in the corners but, with the departure of Deryk Engelland, who else is there?
As for Anaheim, is this the year we FINALLY win at the Honda Center?
Ian Gustafson – I think the Ducks will give them the most trouble just because of how last season ended. The Honda Center curse is alive and well. If the Flames can win the regular season series them the players confidence will be sky high. Ryan Kesler will be up to his old antics and will be in everyones ear trying to stir up trouble. Although the Ducks are getting old, so if the Flames can beat them in Anaheim they will finally get that weight off their shoulders and start approaching it like any other hockey game.
Ramina Shlah – Most likely Anaheim or Edmonton. Anaheim because, well, its Anaheim. Edmonton, because of the McDavid Factor and how well they did last season. But I definitely think those two will be the biggest rivals and the teams that would give the Flames the most trouble. I think the Flames, Ducks, and the Oilers will finish as the Top 3 in the Pacific. While it might not be in that specific order, that is my take on who will finish in the top of the Pacific.
Dan Raicevich – While my colleagues both feel that Edmonton and Anaheim are the threats to the Flames, and I agree but the Ducks are the bigger threat in my opinion. The teams inability to win on the road at the Honda Center is despicable. One win since 2004 there is inexcusable, but thats not the only problem that portrays to the Flames. The Ducks might be as quick as the Flames, but their size and skill grinds the Flames down. They shut down Johnny Gaudreau better than any other team in the league, and they pose as a matchup nightmare for this team, in my opinion.
With Edmonton, you have to contain McDavid and Draisaitl. Calgary can skate with the Oilers, plus they have upgraded the defense group that can also skate with the Oilers. I think the Oilers are not as deep as experts think, but they are still a team the Flames should be in for a game every time the Battle of Alberta heats up.