In one of their more dramatic outings in some time, the boys rolled into Dallas on Tuesday. It was their first of two road games against Central Division opponents. Here are my thoughts on the Calgary Flames’ 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars.
If you blinked, you may have missed it. I certainly did.
At about the 14-minute mark of the third period, I had two problems. The Dallas Stars were up 3-1 over the Calgary Flames, and I noticed that my beer was empty. I could only remedy one of these issues, so I left my TV and made my way to the beer fridge for a refill.
In the time it took me to grab a beer, pour it into a freezer frozen glass (I’m not an animal), and mosey back to the TV, I’d missed the comeback. In 37 seconds, the Flames climbed out their two-goal hole with goals from Andrew Mangiapane and Johnny Gaudreau.
Both goals came from clogging up the crease around Stars goalie Jake Oettinger. Mangiapane knocked in a rebound from a deflected Noah Hanifin point shot. Gaudreau similarly snapped in a rebound off a wraparound attempt by Matthew Tkachuk.
Here’s what else I noticed.
Unplugged Power Play
The Flames have won four of their last five games. And each win has had a bit of a different look to it. From the offensive explosion in the 6-0 win against Columbus to the 1-0 overtime performance against Vancouver, the team is, to use the old cliché, finding ways to win.
What they are not doing, however, is finding a way to score on with the man advantage. Tuesday’s game in Dallas was the fourth consecutive without a power play marker. Even in the aforementioned Columbus game, in which goals were coming from everywhere, the Flames went 0/3 on the PP. And there was a little over a minute in that game when they had a two-man advantage.
Indeed, the Calgary Flames PP performance is trending in the wrong direction. In the first 39 games of the season, before January 1st, the team was converting on 23.3% of their opportunities. This was good for 11th in the league. Since January 1st, however, they have slipped to 23rd in the league with PP% of 17.1%.
With guys like Tkatchuk and Gaudreau on the top power play line, this is definitely an area where the Calgary Flames can be more lethal.
Sutter’s Message Received
I’m always fascinated by the mind games a coach can play. It’s interesting to me when a message gets sent to the players in a non-verbal way. Especially when it works.
Jacob Markstrom did not need to be benched on Tuesday. I did not think any of Dallas’ three goals could be attributed to the netminder’s malpractice. So, when backup Dan Vladar took to the net at the start of the third, I was surprised and assumed Markstrom was hurt.
But, as confirmed by Associate Coach Kirk Muller (video above), Markstrom was fine. Darryl Sutter was sending a message. He was saying, “Get it together, fellas. If I can bench the league leader in shutouts, I can bench any one of you.”
Message received. The Calgary Flames held the Stars to five shots in the third period while putting 18 on Oettinger. Further, Calgary generated five High Danger Chances in the third. The Stars, none. Most importantly, though, the Flames came back and won the game.
Sutter knew what buttons to push, pushed them and got results. Fascinating.
Next up, the Arizona Coyotes. Then a little golf during the All-Star break.