Game Takes: Stars 5 Flames 4 (OT) (Series tied 2-2)

August 16th, 2020 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Don’t let the final score in overtime fool you.

This one wasn’t even close.

If the Flames had won the opening of this story would be a team getting bounces and how it seems the Flames will go four or five or even six years without a whole lot going right, then every ten years or so they get what seems to be every bounce in an un-probable run.

The Flames started well, but were thoroughly outplayed in the second, third and most of overtime in skating to a 5-4 overtime win with an overtime winner with TJ Brodie breaking his stick. Joe Pavelski paced the Stars with a hat trick.

Series tied at 2-2 and Dallas very much in the driver seat in my opinion.

Lineup Changes

Game four is upon us, and once again no Matthew Tkachuk once again for the Flames.

The line changes for game three were effective in a sense as they won the game, but pretty much a death knell for the team when it came to chance generation. The top line is still missing in action (did generate two high danger chances), the second line is damaged with Matthew Tkachuk missing, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if Sam Bennett is breaking down on the third line. Oh and Zach Rinaldo on the fourth line does nothing to keep that trio above water.

At least the blueline and the goaltending seems to be holding up!

So the lines …

Cam Talbot in goal, which given his performance in the last one may just be the guy the rest of the way. Certainly can’t argue that fact with his play. His high danger save percentage has been climbing. From .740 to .840 in the last two games.

On the blueline no change. Mark Giordano with TJ Brodie, Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, and Erik Gustafsson with Derek Forbort.

Up front no change from game three. Sean Monahan between Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. Mikael Backlund between Tobias Rieder and Andrew Mangiapane. Sam Bennett between Milan Lucic and Dillon Dube, and finally Derek Ryan with Zach Rinaldo and Alan Quine.

Top Line Cashes on Powerplay

The top line had a chance or two again this afternoon, matching the slight improvement they found in game three.

They both picked up two points on the powerplay as well, which is good in the “this may get them going” sense, but bad in that those that just look at points could honestly summarize the series as a productive one despite their struggles.

They have to find a way to tip the scales in goal production five on five, and even with the improvement that has happened. If you want to find a silver lining in what ended up a tough afternoon go with the chances that Johnny Gaudreau got in overtime. He looked more like himself than we’ve seen in quite some time.

The Talbot Story

Am I anti-Talbot or does the guy make you nervous?

He just seems to be fortunate more often than good in my eyes. Too many short side goal posts or far side cross bars.

I realize this isn’t a popular opinion and how could it be with the barrage that Talbot faced for the second straight game. He’s getting the job done, it’s impossible to make the argument otherwise, but he scares the day lights out of me.

I guess what I’m saying … the Flames shouldn’t break the bank and lock this guy up long term this off season out of a sense of finding the big answer in these playoffs. They haven’t.

The Bennett Discussion

I’d call this the typical Bennett game because of the two penalties, but the two goals and an assist part isn’t normal at all as we all know.

Neither penalty would be what I’d call lazy or selfish. The first an attempt to tie up in his man on a face off, something that happens on every offensize zone puck drop and is called every 20 or 25 times. The second an aggressive hit that was called a charge, but the bread and butter of his game.

The big thing though was the production.

A powerplay assist because he keeps the play alive squirting a rebound to Johnny Gaudreau, then a one timer on his own, then a rebound convert five on five.

All good points and earned … not a player just getting bounces.

That’s now five goals and two assists in eight games played for a guy that only put up 12 points in 52 games in the regular season.

Sure makes some decisions a year from now interesting. Is Sam Bennett still expansion fodder or is he finally turning the corner, not into a an elite top line center, but maybe a second line guy that stirs the drink?

Rieder Another Shorty

Funny how things tend to even out.

The guy can’t buy a goal in Edmonton and then is singled out by Bob Nicholson in an unfortunate incident at a season ticket holder meeting; his career looked to be over.

Nope. Makes the Flames and scores four times in the regular season and becomes part of the team’s penalty killing nucleus.

But the playoffs? Now three shorthanded goals and all of them back breakers to make a huge impact on the good fortune of the Flames.

Rope a Dope II?

The game had a different feel overall, but when you dig down deep once again it was the Flames collapsing and keeping Dallas to the outside.

The Flames attacked early in both the first and second periods, but fell back to the same old defense first posture when Dallas amped up the pressure.

Hockey fans (and media) have always had a habit of assuming the team they follow is in full control. That is the good times are because the team is playing the way it’s supposed to, the bad because they stopped trying or didn’t show up. With that being true you have to take Dallas into account in all this.

Could be that the Flames decided this was the way to win in the playoffs; play better defense, keep teams to the outside and rely on their special teams and counter attack to score enough goals to win.

If that’s the case it certainly worked against Winnipeg, but with a more talented Dallas team it comes down to their lack of finish or they could easily be down three games to on.

Dallas Ends Streak

The Stars scored late in the first period on a powerplay to take a 1-0 lead, which isn’t all that newsworthy, save for the fact that it was the first time in 13 contests dating back to mid February since they’ve opened the scoring.

To me it was almost a good thing. Get the Flames off their defense first and sit on a lead format that we saw in game one.

No point in sitting on a one goal deficit.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Flames 40 Stars 62
Face Offs – Flames 49%
Special Teams – Flames 2/4 Stars 2/7

Player Stats:

Points – Sam Bennett led the way for Calgary with three points on the strength of two goals and an assist.
Plus/Minus – Rasmus Andersson was +2 for the Flames to pace his teammates.
Shots – Sean Monahan and Erik Gustaffson both had five shots on goal on the afternoon.

Fancy Stats

This one was a farce.

The Stars have a whopping 61% of the five on five shot attempts with period splits of 45%/63%/67% and 71% in overtime. The high danger chances were even more lopsided as the Stars had a 20-6 edge as Cam Talbot was worked mercilessly. The Stars had a 72% xGF% five on five through the game.

In all situations Dallas had 64% of the shot attempts, 69% of the high danger chances and 63% of the xGF%.

Individually only Alan Quine at 64% and Derek Ryan at 50% managed to avoid being on the losing side of possession. TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano held their own. Andrew Mangiapane was at 25% and ten other players were in the 30s in a rough afternoon.

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