While Jake Oettinger deserves a ton of credit for shutting down the Flames offence, Calgary has to take most of the blame for its anemic output in the first two games of the series.
The Flames knew what to expect of Dallas heading into their first-round playoff series. Inferior in basically every statistical category from the regular season, the Stars would need to suffocate and frustrate what was a high-powered Calgary offence.
Through two games of the first-round series, it’s job done for the Stars. Oettinger has been outstanding, especially considering he was fourth in Dallas’ pecking order at the start of the season.
However, the Flames haven’t done enough to make life miserable for a goaltender, who, prior to Game 1, had never seen playoff action.
According to MoneyPuck.com, the Flames have just 1.88 total expected goals for, the second lowest of any playoff team. I’m sure you can guess the only team with fewer expected goals.
It’s one thing if a netminder is standing on his head and taking away certain goals, but that has not been the case in both games to open this series. Yes, Oettinger has been solid as a rock, but he hasn’t been otherworldly. The Flames haven’t been nearly clinical enough in front of goal.
Any playoff team can win the cup if their goaltender gets hot and is able to sustain an elite level of play. Oettinger is playing extremely well, but he isn’t the only reason the Flames are in their current predicament.
Look for the Flames to make life way more difficult for the comparatively inexperienced netminder in Dallas tonight. There’s a fine line between throwing too many low-danger shots on goal just to work the goaltender and trying to create the perfect chance.
Calgary has zero high-danger shots, the only team in the playoffs devoid of at least one. For the Flames to take over this series and perform to the level their capable of, they must do a far better job of creating the space they need for a clear sight on goal.
Otherwise Oettinger is going to continue to snuff Calgary’s numerous middling opportunities, making himself look like an elite playoff netminder.