Do Flames chances of beating Edmonton ride on Chris Tanev’s return?

Connor McDavid and the rest of Edmonton’s first line have dominated the Flames defence in all three games thus far, so does Calgary’s chances of upending the Oilers rely on Chris Tanev’s immediate return to the lineup? 

McDavid has nine points in three contests, running roughshod over a Flames defence that enjoyed the third-lowest goals against average during the regular season.

Not only have the Flames found it impossible to stop McDavid , they’ve also been unable to slow the Oilers’ superstar, who seemingly creates golden scoring opportunities every time he’s on the ice.

If the Flames can’t find a way to at least slow McDavid’ it’s going to be a short series. So far things don’t look promising.

There are more momentum swings in the playoffs than weather changes on a spring day in Calgary, but the Flames are running short of ideas about how to cope with McDavid’s power, pace, agility and otherworldly skill.

The importance of Tanev’s shutdown defending has never been so apparent.

Tanev hasn’t returned since leaving the first-round series after suffering an injury in Game 6. The severity of his absence wasn’t as pronounced in Game 7 against the Stars, but the Oilers, and particularly McDavid, are an altogether different beast.

Not only is Tanev the Flames’ best shutdown defender, he also adds composure, reliability and a wealth of experience that is palpably lacking from the Battle of Alberta.

There is no word on how long Tanev will be out for, but his absence becomes ever more detrimental with each passing game.

The Flames won’t want to rush an injured Tanev back into the lineup.

However, the gravity of the situation is increasing substantially with every Oilers goal and win. If Tanev doesn’t return for Game 4, the Flames will need a heroic performance from the collective to level the series at two games apiece.

The concern is real and the looming question is whether the Flames can ever cope with McDavid when Tanev is not in the lineup. So far the answer to that question is clear.