Skip to main content

Stanley Cup Playoff Storylines: Flames on the Brink, Rangers/Hurricanes Looking for Edge

The Calgary Flames are a loss away from an early summer break, while the Hurricanes and Rangers head to PNC Arena tied at two games apiece. Here's what you need to know about Thursday's battles.

After the St. Louis Blues avoided elimination on Wednesday, we have another team on the brink of an early exit.

The Calgary Flames finished first in the Pacific Division with 111 points, good for third in the Western Conference behind Colorado and Minnesota. But like Minnesota, they're on the verge of an extended summer if they can't figure out how to tame the Edmonton Oilers tonight in Game 5.

But before that, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers -- knotted at two games apiece -- will do battle at PNC Arena in Carolina. The Hurricanes won the first two games, but the Rangers took the next two to put some pressure on the Hurricanes heading back home.

Here's what you need to know about tonight's matchups:

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers

Can the Rangers end Carolina's home streak?

The Carolina Hurricanes haven't lost a game at home during these playoffs. They haven't won a game on the road, either, and that's why Carolina gave up two wins against the Rangers on the road and find themselves tied in a series they once had control in.

For the Rangers, that's money. The Rangers are thriving right now and the momentum is fully on their side.

The Rangers are so determined. Many wrote them off after struggling against a Pittsburgh Penguins team using a third-string goalie. And while they did fall down 3-1 in that series, they fought back and ended up winning in seven games, anyways.

And now they've got a chance to put Carolina on their heels before heading back home for Game 6. Igor Shesterkin is playing close to his full potential again, and Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano have been a big help as trade deadline acquisitions. 

For the Rangers, just keep rolling. If it works, it works, and it

Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers

Which Jacob Markstrom will the Flames get in Game 5?

Markstrom's struggles have been well-documented, especially in Game 4. For a guy going up for the Vezina Trophy, his performance has been simply unacceptable. 

But, this series isn't over. And when he's on his game, he's one of the best in the world. Hence, the Vezina nomination.

The Flames have struggled offensively, getting shut out in Game 3. Goal support has been an issue for the Flames in these playoffs, and a big reason why they had so much difficulty with Dallas in the first round. 

But with a handful of blown leads and being forced to play catch-up early in Game 4 has put Calgary in a tough spot where they have to play must-win hockey the rest of the way against a team with Connor Flippin' McDavid. It doesn't matter how good you are, that's just a lot to overcome.

So, at the very least, the Flames need adequate goaltending in Game 5. They're too good of a team with too good of a defense core to keep letting this happen. Chris Tanev's injuries have been a problem, for sure, but the Flames aren't playing like the Flames we know they can be.


Danny Zhilkin

What NHL Teams Are Getting from Danny Zhilkin

After a lost year, Danny Zhilkin emerged as one of the biggest stars on the Guelph Storm. Now, he's ready to show NHL teams what he's capable of.

Claude Giroux Ottawa Senators

Will Claude Giroux Sign With A Canadian Team?

Claude Giroux could be changing teams again when the free-agent market opens on July 13. Recent conjecture links the versatile 34-year-old forward to three Canadian teams.

Logan Cooley

Logan Cooley is Ready for the NHL Draft Spotlight

If opponents aren’t attentive, Logan Cooley can become hockey’s answer to the ‘invisible gorilla’ when he’s on the ice. His savvy and 200-foot game have vaulted him to elite-prospect status ahead of the 2022 NHL draft.