Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks: three-point checklist

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 3: Micheal Ferland
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 3: Micheal Ferland /

The Calgary Flames kick off their six-game road trip in Chicago tonight and will sweep the mini-series if they control three important aspects. 

1. Win the battle of the special teams

It’s no secret the Flames power play isn’t firing on all cylinders. They have the 23rd ranked power play, with a 17.2 percent success rate, in the league. The Blackhawks kill 82.3 percent of their penalties, good for 8th best in the league. Expect Calgary to throw pucks on net at a mere glimpse of Chicago’s goal. By keeping it simple, the Flames have a better chance of circumventing the Hawks’ efficient penalty kill.

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The home side’s power play is nothing short of woeful. With a miserly 15.4 percent success rate, the Blackhawks have the third worst power play in the NHL.

With a middling 17th-ranked penalty kill, the Flames, based on rankings alone, should be able to stifle the Hawks’ power play.

Keep in mind, though, that Chicago’s power play includes Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz, making the task at hand more difficult than the stats suggest.

2. Silence Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane

Schmaltz, who scored the opener in the reverse fixture in Calgary, is on a tear of late. He has three points in as many games and has amassed 18 points – nine goals and nine assists – in his last 17. We all know the threat Patrick Kane offers, making that unit the one Calgary must pay closest attention to. Kane leads the team in goals (20), assists (32) and points (52), enjoying another stellar year, despite Chicago’s overall inconsistency.

Next: Stars of the week

3. Take the Blackhawks to overtime

The Calgary Flames cannot beat the Blackhawks in regulation, or so recent stats suggest. The Blackhawks are 10-0-7 against the Flames in the last 17, dominating proceedings. Any success Calgary has comes in the extra frame, where the Flames thrive.

Three-on-three overtime sessions offer Calgary the space and freedom to express their bountiful talent, which often results in a Flames win. It’s a formula that’s not only successful against Chicago but the rest of the league, too.

Get it to the extra frame and let Sean Monahan, the team’s overtime guru, do the rest.