In a showcase of the conference's division leaders, the Avalanche and Flames put on quite the performance on Saturday night.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: The Avs and Flames last night, I know you didn't see all of it. I didn't see all of it as well. I had it on. I also had the fights on, sort of watching everything. But Flames and Avalanche, both the top teams in their respective divisions right now, potentially on a collision course to meet each other in the Western Conference Final if the world we live in is just, which it might not be.
But these two teams have a little history. Remember when the Flames had that 108-point-- not President's Trophy, but they won the Western Conference, and they were bouncing five games by Colorado? So a little bit of a historical thing. But more importantly, maybe the two best teams-- I don't want to say best teams or most talented teams, but the teams that are operating at the highest level right now in the Western Conference are Calgary and Colorado. And they showcased that on Saturday night.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. Just from what I was able to make out from that game, two teams built for the playoffs, two teams just dynamic in their offenses. Calgary may be a little bit better defensively. But actually, one of the best plays of that game was when Cale Makar single-handedly jump-started an offense by stopping an offensive chance from Johnny Gaudreau, literally by just sprawling out and blocking a shooting lane before taking advantage and sending the puck up ice.
I know we live in a world where, through advanced stats, we value primary assists more than secondary assists. But that's what you would call-- and I don't even-- because I know-- I think Nazem Kadri got the puck on that too. That was one of the better plays I've seen from Cale Makar all season. And I know he has the goal of the year candidate, but that also should be a play in his highlight reel.
There were so many plays like that throughout that game. Elias Lindholm, I was very upset with myself, because on one of my fantasy teams, I benched him. And I shouldn't have benched him, because he did really well. It was a big mistake. But man, the Flames that top line, with him, Kachuk and Gaudreau, just firing on all cylinders.
You have the perfect storm of those two teams. And then in overtime, I thought the Avs would have found a way to win that game. But the Flames find a way to do it in the end. Those are two really fun teams to watch. I mean, we all thought with Darrell Sutter hockey, the Flames would be kind of dry. But they've ended up looking really good.
And I know there are some people who think they're pretenders. I don't know if the Flames are going to win the Cup this year. But I don't know. I believe in them to a certain extent. I could see them winning a round or two.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: There is a misconception about Darryl Sutter hockey, right? That it is boring, that it is defensively responsible trap, 1996 New Jersey Devils. It's not that way. You can be very, very exciting while playing defensively responsible hockey.
It's just that you're not doing wide, sweeping circles and playing lackluster defensively. You're playing hard in straight lines. And when you play hard in straight lines, the game seems to reach a level of tempo in which others can't match. And I thought that was the one take home message for me from that game.
It looked like he was played at a different speed. And it was probably the perfect two elements, in that the Flames do play that up-and-down style. But Colorado is the fastest team in the league. And if they're going to get into a track meet and they want to encourage that sort of game, where it is going back and forth, well, Colorado's game for that.
So that was like-- Leafs and Canucks was great. That's the game. I watched in the 7 o'clock hour. But it looked like a different level, Flames-Avalanche, in terms of speed and skill and structure. It was a fast game played within that structure that a coach like Darryl Sutter is looking for.
So we could do way worse in terms of Western Conference Finals. Again, it's no guarantee we get there. Vegas could be something really, really special if they get to the playoffs and get all their players back. And of course, Colorado has folded in big moments in the postseason. So no guarantee we get there. But I think it's pretty clear what the two best teams are in the divisions out West. Let's--