The most physical series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs could be the Western Conference First Round series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Calgary Flames.
According to the numbers, these are the two most penalized teams in the NHL, with each seeking to establish an early lead and then protect it with hard-hitting defensive play.
Here are five interesting stats about this series:
The Flames led the NHL with 323 minor penalties, followed by the Ducks with 315.
Three of the 15 NHL players who took at least 30 minor penalties play for Calgary, and each of them is 23 or younger. Forward Matthew Tkachuk (19 years old) led the Flames with 34 minor penalties, defenseman Dougie Hamilton (23) took 32, and forward Sam Bennett (20) had 30.
The Anaheim veterans were responsible for its aggressive play. Forward Corey Perry led the Ducks in minor penalties (33) for the fourth straight season, followed by forward Ryan Kesler with 29.
Video: CHI@ANA: Perry caps off pretty passing play for PPG
More bang for the buck
A highly physical series may slightly favor Anaheim, whose penalty killing has been outstanding since it acquired Kesler in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks on June 27, 2014.
Anaheim finished this season with a penalty killing percentage of .847, ranked fourth in the NHL. Calgary ranked 12th at 81.6 percent.
Anaheim's 2,146 hits ranked second to the Los Angeles Kings (2,323); Calgary ranked 26th with 1,550. Forward Nick Ritchie led Anaheim with 247 hits, eighth in the NHL.
Kesler, who plays at even strength on one of the NHL's best shutdown lines with Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg, has helped establish the Ducks as one of the hardest teams to score against in any manpower situation. They will likely focus on the Flames' top scorers: forward Johnny Gaudreau, who scored 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists) in 72 games, and forward Sean Monahan, who scored 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists).
Anaheim allowed 197 goals, the third fewest in the NHL. Calgary took 2,389 shots, which ranked 24th, second-to-last among playoff teams to the St. Louis Blues (2,331; 26th).
Video: NYR@ANA: Cogliano pots a rebound off the faceoff
Fiercely protected leads
Though Calgary's defensive play may not have the same reputation as Anaheim's, the Flames protected a lead with almost perfect success this season.
Calgary was 23-4-1 when leading after the first period, a winning percentage of .821 that ranked third in the NHL. When carrying a lead into the third period, the Flames were an NHL-best 33-0-1.
It will be critical for Anaheim to avoid chasing the lead at any stage of the game. The Ducks were 4-9-6 when trailing after the first period, a .211 winning percentage that ranked 25th, and 2-19-7 when trailing after two periods, a .071 winning percentage that ranked 27th.
Luck of the draw
Anaheim won 54.7 percent of its faceoffs this season, which led the NHL. Depending on the timing of some critical draws in late-game situations, that could prove to be a decisive advantage.
The addition of free agent center Antoine Vermette on Aug. 15, 2016 gave the Ducks two of the League's best faceoff specialists, the other being Kesler.
Among the 142 players who took at least 300 faceoffs, Vermette's .623 faceoff winning percentage ranked second to Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, who won 62.6 percent. Kesler ranked sixth at 57.4 percent.
The Flames ranked 19th with a faceoff winning percentage of .489. Their top primary faceoff player was Monahan, who won 51.5 percent.