Weekly Lost & Found: St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames & Round 3 Predictions

This week is a special Weekly Lost & Found edition, as it’s my 100th article with The Hockey Writers. The support and camaraderie experienced with THW have been unmatched, and the creative freedom given by the editorial and leadership teams is what allowed this little Weekly Lost & Found idea to come to life. I am very grateful for the first 100 and excited for the next! With that…let’s talk that hockey.

Weekly Lost & Found What's Trending in the NHL

There are now just two teams left fighting for a spot in their respective Conference Finals. Two teams were sent to the golf course to join the Florida Panthers, which we covered in last week’s edition. The St. Louis Blues bowed out in six games to the Colorado Avalanche while the Calgary Flames fell in five games to the Edmonton Oilers in the Battle of Alberta.

Those teams are evidently “Lost.” For the “Found” section, we’ll give some conference finals predictions. Happy Memorial Day to those who celebrate, let’s get to it.

Lost: St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames Sent Golfing

The St. Louis Blues made things interesting after a Game 5 overtime win courtesy of Tyler Bozak but ultimately fell short in heartbreaking fashion. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames just couldn’t suppress Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl; sound like a familiar story?

St. Louis Blues

The Blues fell short despite some fantastic performances from their forward corps that had four players score six or more goals in 12 games. David Perron led the team with nine goals and 13 points, while Pavel Buchnevich led with 10 assists. Justin Faulk led Blues defenseman with seven assists and eight points to finish off his best season since joining the team.

David Perron St. Louis Blues
David Perron, St. Louis Blues forward (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

One of the biggest storylines was goaltending, as Jordan Binnington won back the starting job from Ville Husso, but fell to an injury. In his six games this postseason, he stood on his head and went 4-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average (GAA) and a .949 save percentage (SV%). Husso struggled this postseason and went 2-5 with a 3.67 GAA and .890 SV%.

Related: No. 91s Taking Over The 2022 NHL Playoffs

The Blues will have a lot to think about this offseason as Husso is an unrestricted free agent (UFA), but he won the starting job during the regular season. Aside from that, they should be returning a fairly similar lineup. If they do, Ryan O’Reilly’s confidence in his squad could be translated to next season.

Calgary Flames

The Flames have now dropped to 1-5 all-time in postseason Battle of Alberta matchups, bowing out in five games to the Oilers. Given the regular season they had and both the restricted and unrestricted free agents they’ll have to sign, this one must sting.

Their big guns showed up more or less, but it wasn’t enough to suppress the Oilers’ superstars. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and six points; Matthew Tkachuk had three goals and four points, but no goals after a wild Game 1 hat trick; and both Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane had two goals and four points. They got on the board, but it wasn’t enough. Additionally, Jacob Markstrom struggled and was even pulled in Game 3. He allowed 24 goals in five games and held a .852 SV%.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers Jacob Markstrom Calgary Flames
Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames makes a save against Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

McDavid scored three goals and 12 points but brought a noticeable physical presence while averaging 23:12 ice time per game. However, it was Draisaitl who set records in several categories. His 15 assists were the most by a player in a series in NHL postseason history, and he set a record with four assists in the second period of Game 3, while likely playing through injury. Speaking of injury, the Flames desperately missed Chris Tanev throughout the series as he was hurt, and ended up playing injured even when he returned for the final two games.

Found: Preemptive Conference Final Predictions

Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will not have happened by the time this article is published, so I am going to give a projection on how each will fare against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final based on each potential outcome. The Western Conference Final is set in stone, so I’ll start out west. 

A note from the author: these predictions are subjective to this writer and do not reflect the views of the entire THW team.

Oilers will def. Avalanche in Western Conference Final

There’s a lot of internal back-and-forth about this series, but there’s just something about the way McDavid celebrated that Game 5 overtime winner that says, “I will not be stopped.” His play is showing that too, with 26 points in 12 games. That includes a matching stat line of seven goals and 19 assists with Draisaitl.

The Avalanche have played two fewer games, and have five players at a point per game or better, led by Nathan MacKinnon’s eight goals and 13 points, and Cale Makar’s 10 assists and 13 points. Mikko Rantanen also had 10 assists, but only one empty-net goal.

This series could very well come down to goaltending and who you trust more in net, but it’s getting harder and harder to bet against McDavid. The Avalanche have just two players who don’t have a point this postseason, whereas it’s only four for the Oilers, though two of those have only played in one game.

Related: Oilers & Flames Rewrite Record Books in Playoff Series

Both teams’ depth has been showing up this postseason, and their goaltending has been decent enough, with Mike Smith and the Oilers having the edge. If they can sustain the goal support for Smith, the Oilers will win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and book passage to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since losing to the Hurricanes in 2006.

Rangers will def. Lightning

I can already hear the hate and disagreement for this take, but I have to stick with my pick. Additionally, the Rangers’ core players are stepping up, and their “kid line” has exceeded expectations. While the Lightning have displayed their dedication time and time again.

It’s safe to say that the east has superior goaltending, despite Smith’s strong play. That rings true for the Rangers with Igor Shesterkin and his 2.74 GAA and .926 SV% on a team that bleeds high-danger chances. Meanwhile, Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to be the Lightning’s backbone with a 2.22 GAA and .932 SV%.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save on Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

One of the key factors in this series will be fatigue. The Lightning’s fatigue will be from three straight seasons with deep playoff runs for this core, and for the Rangers, it will be from many of their players never experiencing a run like this, nor an 82-game NHL season. It may be a series of who can outlast who, and who will be the first to break. Shesterkin will have to steal games, and if he can, the Rangers will head to the Stanley Cup Final.

Lightning will def. Hurricanes

It’s kind of incredible how the Hurricanes have never seen a road team win during this postseason. What’s even more incredible is how they’re a completely different team on the road than in Raleigh. If anyone could steal a game or two on the road, it’s probably the Lightning, as they went 1-1-1 in the season series with a minus-1 goal differential.

Even when the Hurricanes were winning at home, their power play has struggled and their top performers have failed to crack Shesterkin. The depth and the grit of the Lightning may be too much for them to handle; especially if there are questions in goal as Antti Raanta was pulled in Game 6 against the Rangers in favor of Pyotr Kochetkov, and Frederik Andersen could potentially make a return at some point. Based on this, the Lightning would hoist the Prince of Wales Trophy and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. 

Related: Rangers Turn to No Quit Attitude Facing Elimination

These playoffs have been incredible so far, and they are only going to get better. Thank you for the months of viewership and support, let’s keep it going. As always, stick with the incredible team at The Hockey Writers for all your playoff coverage. Don’t forget, our great team also covers the rapidly approaching NHL Entry Draft and more!

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