Let us break down the Ducks and Flames offensive parts, shall we? Don’t worry kids, it’s PG-rated.
This year has seen a lot of line shuffling. Coach Randy Carlyle seemingly mirrored his strategy from his Cup Championship team in ‘07 - find a shutdown line and stuck with it. That line this season has been the Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg line. In the playoffs, the key is matching this line against those that Calgary expects to generate the most offense from - which if I had to assume, is any line featuring Johnny Gaudreau.
The Flames, predictably, have surrounded Johnny Hockey with big center Sean Monahan Michael Ferland, a gritty winger with an edge. Monahan is second in scoring behind Gaudreau but Ferland is 10th on the team with less than half the amount of points. You would think playing on a line with Gaudreau would be good for some easy assists but I guess they don’t give those out for creating space. Kesler will do his best to shadow and be a constant nuisance to Gaudreau. Ferland will attempt attempt to give Geadreau a wide breadth from Kesler, but the speed of Cogliano and Silfverberg will go a long way to keeping Gaudreau in check.
Gaudreau & Monahan actually sit 7th and 8th on the team overall in Corsi, whereas Cogliano is 1st, Kesler 6th & Silfverberg 7th. I think I would give the Ducks the advantage here.
The only scary thing about the Flames forward wise compared to a matchup against the Oilers is the Flames actually have forward depth.
Gaudreau and Monahan actually have the same Corsi numbers as Silfverberg and Perry respectively; the rest of the Flames team are just slightly better. Rookie pest and fond executor of the “reverse elbow check,” Mathew Tkachuk, leads the way with a 55.92 SAT% which is better than any Duck. Cogliano has 53.92. Tkachuck’s role is to be a general nuisance and try to get key Ducks players off the ice either via stupid retaliatory penalties or injury; Carlyle would be smart to play a line against his that does not get suckered into chippy play (my money would be the Getzlaf line). Putting the Ducks best offense against the Flames best puck-possession line is Anaheim’s best bet at nullifying any advantage the Flames might bring there.
It’s pretty easy to overlook the Flames 3rd line, Alex Chiasson and Sam Bennet have put up decent numbers but havent exactly lit the world alight. Chiasson has a SAT% of 52.03 & Bennett 48.73, showing some variance in this lines ability to drive play the Flames’ way. Bennett had 26 points on the year & Chiasson 24. Matching them against the Perry line would work best for the Ducks, provided the Perry line consists of Perry-Vermette-Ritchie. Given Ritchie will be missing for the first game, I am assuming Kase slots in his spot. The Ducks 3rd line possession numbers work better against the Bennett line overall.
Then we have the unsung playoff heroes, the fourth liners. It could be pivotal for Anaheim the fact that their fourth line has gotten hot heading into the postseason. Wagner, Thompson and Shaw are applying a relentless forecheck lately and putting in goals by just crashing the net; those are the kind of goals that are most commonly scored in the playoffs. Wagner is going to be instrumental in playing the body and laying some huge hits - while Thompson and Shaw will need to be defensive conscious behind him. The Flames fourth line will be counted on to get into Gibson’s face and generally be a pain in the ass - Matt Stajan & Lance Bouma are really really good at that, but are also susceptible to taking penalties. Brouwer, a reliable forward for the Flames, is used on the Power Play & Penalty Kill and rounds out the fourth line. I’d say this one is a dead-heat with maybe a slight advantage to the Flames in terms of experience.
Overall - despite the Flames forward depth potentially causing issues, and perhaps some wins for the Flames at home when Carlyle cannot get the necessary match-ups, the Ducks have the better balance across the top 9.