NHL.com goes Behind the Numbers to identify key statistics for each of the eight best-of-5 series in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Today, a look at the matchup between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.
Perhaps the biggest difference maker for the Winnipeg Jets this season was goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who finished second in wins (31) behind Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (35). Hellebuyck's win total was even more impressive considering the Winnipeg defenseman group was without Dustin Byfuglien (contract terminated), Jacob Trouba (traded to the New York Rangers), Ben Chiarot (signed with the Montreal Canadiens) and Tyler Myers (signed with the Vancouver Canucks), who each was a regular in Winnipeg's top four last season. Despite the turnover, Hellebuyck led the NHL with six shutouts, and his .922 save percentage was seventh among goalies to play at least 20 games. Hellebuyck also excelled at even strength, where his .927 save percentage was seventh among goalies under the same parameters. Also exemplifying Hellebuyck's effectiveness this season are his NHL-leading 38 starts with at least a .900 save percentage. Will he be able to replicate that success against the Calgary Flames? That could depend on whether Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau and center Sean Monahan, who combined for 75 fewer points this season (106; 40 goals, 76 assists) than in 2018-19 (181; 70 goals, 111 assists), regain their scoring touch.
Video: VGK@WPG: Hellebuyck stymies Vegas to earn the shutout
Shot attempts differential
One area of concern for the Jets could be their shot attempts differential (minus-190), which ranked 21st in the League compared to that of the Flames, who were 15th (plus-43). This suggests Winnipeg gets heavily out-attempted by opponents at 5-on-5, putting pressure on Hellebuyck to perform his best every game. The Jets were tied for seventh with the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks in wins when outshot by opponents (21). It could be that Winnipeg got accustomed to this style of play and is comfortable giving up shots on goal and relying on Hellebuyck. Or it could mean the bubble will eventually burst, giving the Flames the advantage here.
Another area of defensive concern for the Jets is their penalty kill, which ranked 22nd in the NHL (77.6 percent) this season compared to Calgary's, which was tied for eighth with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins (82.1 percent). The Flames also have the slight advantage on the power play (21.2 percent, 12th), compared to Winnipeg (20.5 percent, 15th). One area that could affect Calgary on the penalty kill depends on its goalie. David Rittich, who started 48 games this season, had a .882 save percentage when facing the opposing team's power play; Cam Talbot started 26 games and had a slightly better .888 save percentage in the same situation. If the Flames want to strenghten this area further, they could consider starting Talbot, whose power-play save percentage was tied for ninth in the League with Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers, Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes.
Video: CGY@CBJ: Rittich makes 43 saves in shutout win
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