Balance and goaltending are clear requirements for a team to win the Stanley Cup.
Those qualities, combined with an ideal setup in the underdog role heading into the Stanley Cup Players, are why the Calgary Flames will shock the NHL and win the Stanley Cup.
Offensive stars Johnny Gaudreau, with 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists) and Sean Monahan, with 58 (27 goals, 31 assists), will weave their expected magic, complementing blossoming defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who had a breakout season with an League career high 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists).
Add to that relenting consistency from defenseman Mark Giordano and No. 1 goalie Brian Elliott, veteran right wing Troy Brouwer and rookie left wing Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames have the required grit and size to withstand the grind from April to June.
The ability and willingness to engage physically becomes more important on the road in the playoffs and that's what will allow Calgary to win four best-of-7 rounds without holding home-ice advantage.
Of course, teams that get hot at the right time can win the Stanley Cup, and the Flames showed this season they can do just that.
After an outburst by coach Glen Gulutzan, when he called the Flames "pathetic" following a 5-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 24, Calgary went 21-9-1 to go from playoff outlier to serious contender.
Of course, the biggest reason for their success will be Elliott, who was 26-18-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .910 save percentage After a rocky start to his first season in Calgary, Elliott finished strong and showed he has the ability to carry the Flames.
It's clear Gulutzan knows what buttons to push, and that ability will be important when it comes to dealing with adversity in the postseason.
His intensity, Gaudreau's big-game ability and the play of Elliott is why the Flames, who last won the Cup in 1989, will bring the title back to Calgary.
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