Game 4: Flames 3 Stars 1 (Flames lead series 3-2)

May 12th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The first 40 minutes of this one felt like far too many Calgary Flames playoff games in years past.

The team isn’t necessarily playing poorly, but they’re not playing like themselves, and with that they are either tied or trailing and making things clinically uncomfortable.

Then the third period, and specifically the reconstituted 2nd line came along.

A tying goal from Mikael Backlund, and then a go ahead goal from Andrew Mangiapane completely changed the narrative and sent the Flames towards a huge 3-1 win and a 3-2 edge in the best of seven series.

The duo combine for four third period points to snatch the victory away from the Dallas Stars and give the team a chance at finishing the series on Friday night in Dallas.

Not something you see every day from this franchise.

The Lineup

Sutter continues the are of deception on the game day again with the only guys taking extra work (scratches) are players that are a given to be out; Connor Mackey, Adam Ruzicka and Adam Carpenter. The two up in the air, Michael Stone and Brett Ritchie were with the main group and left when the regulars left.

But I’d assume he sticks with the same plan ….

So its Elias Lindholm with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, Then five others forwards that seem to roll in different combinations. Calle Jankrok and Tyler Toffoli both seemed to spend some time with Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis but to what quantities I can only guess.

On the blueline it’s the expected six, with Erik Gudbranson coming back in after taking a pass on the final regular season game in Winnipeg. So it’s Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington with Chris Tanev, and Nikita Zadorov with Gudbranson.

Jacob Markstrom gets the start in the nets.

Series Line Metrics (pointless!)

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk 46.9%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tofoli 47.4%
Dube – Jarnkrok – Coleman 33.3%
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 55.6%

Hanifin – Andersson 57.5%
Kylington – Tanev 62.2%
Zadorov – Gudbranson 51.7%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +3.7

This Series Statistically (Five on Five through two games)

Flames Splits …

CF% 57.3% (1st)
SF% 61.0% (1st)
GF% 50.0% (3rd)
xGF% 52.4% (3rd)

Play Driving Players … (xGF%)

Backlund 67.8%
Coleman 66.7%
Mangiapane 65.3%
Kylington 64.0%
Andersson 63.3%

Players Getting Filled In … (xGF%)

Dube 53.8%
Gudbranson 54.0%
Jarnkrok 54.8%
Lindholm 56.5%
Zadorov 58.0%

Bowness Coming Across Like a Chump

Who waves their hands in a dismissive fashion when an opposing player gets a puck right in the face?

Not a good look for Rick Bowness … he seemed to be gesturing towards his body, suggesting Johnny Gaudreau took the puck in the chest, so maybe it’s a matter of not seeing the replay, but yeah no … right in the face.

Gotta love it when a series gets into game five or so and all human decency flies out the window.

First Period Stalemate

As the regular season wound down, I kept referring to how I liked the evolution of the Flames “B” game.

Tonight in the first period we saw more of that. Instead of being a little flat and paying for it by being down 2-0 through 20 minutes the Flames worked through their lack of cohesion (with the help of Jacob Markstrom) to keep the first period scoreless.

Allows Darryl Sutter to settle things down and refocus his squad without a hole to dig out of.

Second Line Dominance

There are many times when fans clamour for a certain outcome, but the real guy in charge never sees the same view and with that it withers and dies.

A classic example of that is the hope that Sutter would puck Mikael Backlund back with Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman as the trio were dominant in the regular season when they were together, but abandoned because they didn’t light the lamp.

With the roster shift to 11 forwards we saw them help run over the Stars in Game four, and tonight we saw them flip the script on a 1-0 Dallas lead in the third period scoring two goals towards the Flames 3-1 victory.

Maybe now the focus will shift to getting Matthew Tkachuk back with Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau.

Tkachuk Dropped

With 11 forwards you’re going to get some different looks and lines, which is to be expected.

With that said, it was pretty obvious they broke Matthew Tkachuk away from his regular linemates in Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau for most of the second half of the game; Blake Coleman getting some of that ice time.

The man knows what he’s doing, but now that they finally have the “good” second line back together I’d like to see that first line find the range again.

Makes for a formidable top six.

Give Dallas Credit

Hockey fans are often guilty of seeing a game or a series primarily through the lens of their own team, and don’t take into consideration the play of the opposition.

The first two periods of this game were played very evenly, and very defensively.

Both teams were on it, and not creating a whole lot.

That’s not the Flames sitting back. That’s Dallas making it very difficult for Calgary to do what Calgary likes to do.

Well Done Calgary!

The Red Lot looks on tonight were amazing, it looked there had to be what? Five to seven thousand people out there.

Certainly had more depth and regal-ness than the crew in the parking lot in Edmonton for game five of the Oilers series.

With the sun out after a winning effort, the post game backdrop of the fans outside were pretty special last night.

Rolling with 11

The 11/7 mix is creating some good looks in icetime for the Flames.

As Sutter suggested, adding Stone is allowing him to get the ice time down for his top four, which has really helped the top pairing especially.

But it’s also getting more ice time to the top six forwards up front.

Johnny Gaudreau had 21 minutes of ice, and Backlund and Elias Lindholm had 20. At the bottom the line without a winger, the fourth line were around the seven minute mark.

It’s creating a pretty solid top nine and more momentum when the Flames get rolling.

When He Gets One …

Have to be happy with the boatload of goals that is about to come from Tyler Toffoli.

Streaky players show signs of a run of production coming and we are certainly seeing that from Toffoli right now.

Through five games, he’s 2nd on the Flames for expected goals, first in shots on goal, 2nd in shot attempts and 3rd in scoring chances.

Have to think we’ll see it soon.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 32 Stars 21
Face Offs: Flames 57% / Stars 43%
Powerplay: Flames 0-2 / Stars 0-3

Fancy Stats

The Flames were not the best team through 40 minutes. The shots were close, the score was close, but the team was tight and as a result the Dallas Stars had the best of the five on five play for the most part. The third period? Very different scenario. Through the game the Flames had the better of the possession, but the high danger stuff was with Dallas, in the third Calgary pushed hard and caught up.

Five on five the Flames had 62% of the shot attempts with period splits of 47%/62% and 71% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 54%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 50%, with a 5-5 split. The Flames had a 4-0 high danger split in the third period.

In all situations the Flames had 63% of the shot attempts, 65% of the expected goals, and 50% of the high danger splits.

Individually the Flames were led by Erik Gudbranson with 87% in terms of xGF%. Four other players were in the 80s as well including Nikita Zadorov, Dillon Dube, Matthew Tkachuk, and Calle Jarnkrok. Andrew Mangiapane was in the 60s. The fourth line and the top defense pairing were all under the 40% mark on the night.

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