The Calgary Flames are tied 2-2 in the series vs the Dallas Stars.
If you were to log onto social media in the last few days, you’d think the Calgary Flames were already on the golf course. The fact is, they’re tied 2-2 with plenty of hockey left to play.
It’s certainly not how the team drew it up, nor the fans. But it’s playoff hockey. Dallas wasn’t going to roll over and get swept. They’re a strong team with decent depth and a hot goalie.
But Flames fans have seen this script play out before. It’s only been three years since Calgary had a “historic season” only to win one game in the playoffs. So how can Calgary continue to roll against a tough Stars team?
A lot of the issues were temporarily solved in Game 4. Forward Johnny Gaudreau finally found the back of the net on a pretty penalty shot, while the team put up over 50 shots on Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger.
Calgary Flames need to stay away from extracurricular shenanigans
The first three games were extremely tight-checking, feisty matches. Unfortunately for Calgary, it took away from their game. Dallas slowed the Flames down.
The post-whistle scrums fell into the Stars’ game plan and it rattled players like forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. The Flames seemed more focused on revenge than actually playing the game.
Game 4 was much more disciplined for the Flames. The only time they got a penalty after the whistle was when Tkachuk roughed around Stars Miro Heiskanen. It was a scrum in the third period when forward Mikael Backlund elbowed Heiskanen.
Heading into Game 5 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Stars will want to throw the Flames off their game again. It’s up to each player to stay cool and controlled in front of a boisterous crowd.
Calgary Flames need to keep winning face-offs
The team that dominates in the circle has won every game so far. In Games 1 and 4, the Flames won 56 and 56.2 percent of their draws. During games two and three the Stars won 57.4 and 52.5 percent of face-offs.
Forward Trevor Lewis, who’s proving his worth in the playoffs, lead the Flames in Game 4, winning 60 percent of his draws. Forwards Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie followed suit each winning 50 percent.
The Flames are a quick team. Once they win a draw in the offensive end, a scoring chance is almost guaranteed. Forward Elias Lindholm’s first goal of the postseason came directly from a face-off win.
If Calgary wants to have a chance to take a 3-2 series lead, they’ll need to have their best face-off game thus far.
Calgary Flames need to crash the net on both ends.
Games 2 and 3 felt like the Flames weren’t in the right place at the right time. Every rebound Oettinger gave up was swiftly taken away by a Stars’ back checker. All rebounds from Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom seemed to land on a Dallas stick for a solid scoring chance.
Realistically the Flames should be up in this series, but the rebound control by Oettinger has been phenomenal. He’s been able to guide the puck to the corners or out in the open in a pocket between Flames skaters.
Maybe it was the Flames wanting to be cautious?
In Game 3 Lucic crashed the net and scored, but the Stars challenged for goalie interference. Luckily it was a wasted challenge. But not long after Mangiapane received an interference call.
It’s not like the Flames have played terribly. It’s one of the best series this postseason. Maybe after an outbreak of goals, Calgary can finally build off the momentum.
As the series shifts back to the Saddledome and turns into a best-of-three, look for some of these details in the Flames’ style of play. The crowd will be rocking, emotions will be running high, and both squads are going to want it more.