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We break down what's sure to be an epic matchup with our Canadian rival

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

We can't wait to get back on the ice - and we know our fans are certainly amped for the same thing. 

So, let's talk some hockey.

The Flames are slated to meet the Jets in a best-of-five series to determine who will advance to the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Today we present Part 1 of our series preview.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2.






High-Danger Chances For: 69.2% (9-4)

Corsi For: 45.4% (49-59)

Goal Differential: -1


Video: Condensed Game: Flames @ Jets



Flames: 36-27-7 for 79 points in 70 games (.564 P%)

Jets: 37-28-6 for 80 points in 71 games (.563 P%)



Way back on that crisp, autumn eve, a zealous lot of 30,000-plus embraced the elements of a stunning, snowy vista. 

Things will look a bit different this time. 

While as many as nine months will have passed from when the Flames and Winnipeg Jets last met, at least one of the Heritage Classic's many unique traits will be revived.

An impartial battleground will again be the venue.

But the where and the when remain to be seen. 

Either way, these two Canadian rivals are set to renew pleasantries with very little to go off. 

It's been that long. 

"Whatever scouting report we've had gets thrown right out the window," said Milan Lucic . "It's definitely a fresh start.

"We got a sense of what they were about in the outdoor game, but it's an outdoor game, right? The conditions are what they are, so you're not going to get a full read on your opponent.

"Almost a full season has gone by now - for both teams. We both have a lot of high-end talent, we've both faced our share of adversity. That's what builds a team over the course of a year. Who they are now is probably a lot different than who they were back then.

"And the same goes for us."

That night, Elias Lindholm drew first blood for the Flames deep into the middle frame, but Josh Morrissey and the Jets levelled the score with a PPG of their own with less than five minutes left, before Bryan Little ended the contest with the game-winning strike, 3:04 into overtime. 

David Rittich - who was under siege for much of the third period - finished with a season-high 43 saves.

With the OT defeat, the Flames had won only six of their first 13 games and faced another month of inconsistent play before finding their stride at the beginning of December. 

While this best-of-five, 'Play-In' round doesn't officially count as a playoff series, it may as well be. These two teams have met on three occasions in the post-season (1985, '86 and '87), with two of those three encounters conducted in a best-of-five format. 

In 1985, the Jets defeated the Flames 3-1. In '86, the Flames earned a three-game sweep en route to the Stanley Cup Final. Finally, in 1987, the Jets again came away victorious, earning a 4-2 series win the first and only best-of-seven series between these two clubs. 




The Flames won their four games in March, out-scoring their opponents 12-8 in victories over the Florida Panthers (3-0), Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2, OT) and Arizona Coyotes (3-2). 

Overall, the Flames were 6-3-1 in their last 10.

The Jets, meanwhile, won all four of their March matchups, out-scoring their opponents 15-5 in victories over the Buffalo Sabres (3-1), Vegas Golden Knights (4-0), Arizona Coyotes (4-2) and Edmonton Oilers (4-2).  

Overall, the Jets were 7-2-1 in their last 10. 




Neither team really blew the doors off with a run-you-out-of-the-barn mentality this year, but the skill level is incredibly high on both sides, especially among the younger players. 

For the Flames, Matthew Tkachuk took a step this year and grew into the role as the Flames' emotional leader, as well as the club's top point producer with 61 points (23G, 38A) in 69 games. Lindholm, who enjoyed a lengthy stint in the middle but is now back on the wing, followed up on a career campaign with another exceptional showing at both ends of the ice, and in the process attained a new career benchmark with a team-leading 29 goals to his name. 

Heart and soul second-line centre Mikael Backlund had a rollercoaster-y first half, but was the Flames' top scorer and one of the NHL's best in the last month-and-a-half with points (14) in nine of his last 10 dates, including back-to-back three-point efforts on a recent swing through two of the most difficult stops on the circuit, Boston and Nashville. His 19 points in 14 games in the month of February put him hot on the heels of Mika Zibanejad and Leon Draisaitl for the league's top clip in that period.

Andrew Mangiapane had points in three straight and was on pace to crack the 20-goal plateau, finishing with 32 points (17G, 15A) in 68 games. 

Sean Monahan scored at least 20 goals for the seventh-straight year.

Lucic and Dillon Dube were heating up.

The blueline was chipping in more often.

And we haven't even begun mentioning Calgary's most lethal offensive weapon.  

Johnny Gaudreau was motoring right along at a point-per-game pace in 2020 until a four-game streak was halted on Mar. 8 against the Golden Knights. His 27 points (8G, 19A) in 28 games was tops on the Flames, four points better than second-place Lindholm. 

He was, in a word, dominant. 

For the Jets, the usual suspects - Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers - all had exceptional seasons, with all four finishing at or close to a point-per-game clip.

But the player that took the biggest step and really took the reins for the club this year was 23-year-old Kyle Connor. Connor, the 17th pick in the 2015 Draft, set a new career high with 38 goals and 73 points in 71 games. The Shelby Township, Mich., native shared the team scoring lead with Scheifele, and was playing some of his best hockey of the season prior to the pause. 

In his last 16 games dating back to a season-high, four-point effort against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 8, Connor had 13 tucks, including eight in the final seven games.

The Jets have also squeezed plenty of offence from a blueline that was decimated over the off-season. Gone are Dustin Byfuglien (mutual contract termination), Jacob Trouba (trade), Tyler Myers (UFA) and Ben Chiarot (UFA), but newcomer Neal Pionk has helped absorb those critical losses with big minutes on the backend, along with a career- and team-high 45 points (6G, 39A). 

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