Game 4: Flames 4 Stars 1 (Series tied 2-2)

May 9th, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

I hate the term “statement game”.

It adds too much weight to a single out come.

However there are games where a team facing adversity comes out and makes it really obvious that the narrative is different this time around, and a great season isn’t going to get washed away by a hot young goaltender and the opposing team clinching sticks.

The Flames down 2-1 in Dallas left very little doubt, at least in the end, in putting up 54 shots on goal and skating away with a 4=1 victory after beating the unbeatable Jake Oettinger three times.

The games was 1-0 heading into the third period with both goaltenders standing on their heads, so the script was there for the Stars to pull off an improbable victory.

Instead the Flames got the game winner on a Johnny Gaudreau penalty shot, and just kept pouring it on it tying the series and making it a best of three, as per the norm in the NHL this playoff season.

Next up the Stars in Calgary on Wednesday night.

Are the Flames back?

The Lineup

No changes expected to the 18 skaters and starting goalie, but if the morning skate was any indication we could see a winger swap from lines two and four. Then again, it could just be Sutter messing with the media and/or the Stars and the lines will be as always.

So its Elias Lindholm with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund with Andrew Mangiapane and Tyler Toffoli, Calle Jarnkrok between Blake Coleman and Dillon Dube, and Trevor Lewis centering Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie. And if it isn’t … look for Brett Ritchie to move up to line two with Mikael Backlund and Tyler Toffoli, and Andrew Mangiapane to move down to play with Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis.

I have my doubts that we see scenario two.

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 MetricsĀ 

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk 36.8%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tofoli 50.0%
Dube – Jarnkrok – Coleman 33.3%
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie 55.6%

Hanifin – Andersson 50.0%
Kylington – Tanev 50.0%
Zadorov – Gudbranson 56.5%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.9

This Series Statistically (Five on Five through two games)

Flames Splits …

CF% 57.3% (2nd)
SF% 61.0% (2nd)
GF% 50.0% (7th)
xGF% 52.4% (6th)

Play Driving Players … (xGF%)

Lucic 64.8%
Lewis 64.7%
Ritchie 58.6%
Toffoli 57.2%
Mangiapane 56.8%

Players Getting Filled In … (xGF%)

Dube 37.0%
Lindholm 43.9%
Tkachuk 47.9%
Tanev 49.0%
Gaudreau 49.5%

Have to get some of the top players onto list one, and off of list two!

Chance Generation

Coming into the game the Flames generated slightly more high danger chances both five on five and in all situations vs their metrics in the regular season.

The difference? Who’s doing the generating.

A big boost in chances to the middle six, which is great, but they’re not finishing, which isn’t.

Additionally a slide in chances to the top line, which is potentially disastrous.

Tonight though a completely different story as the top line broke out, and the Flames as a group solved Jake Oettinger three times.

7 D

Interesting roster wrinkle from Darryl Sutter with Michael Stone dressed as a 7th defenseman and Brett Ritchie getting the night off.

Don’t think there was a late injury, as we saw Ritchie in the warm ups so it looks like the morning roster scramble was 100% just messing with the Stars, the media and I suppose the fans.

Having Stone available for the powerplay is a solid idea, but I thought Stone played a little more than he needed to five on five.

Lucic and Benn

Milan Lucic has proven to be a pretty valuable hockey player since coming over from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade for James Neal, though an expensive one at $5.75M against the Flames cap.

But tonight he showed yet another angle in how he helps a hockey team.

With all the chaos around Matthew Tkachuk he’s been a marked man from the perspective of the Star’s captain, Jamie Benn. Benn has been challenging Tkachuk to fights, egging him on, and then having a go at him in press conferences between games.

Lucic tonight, took the opening face off against Benn and then followed him around the ice screaming at him. The look on Benn’s face was telling as he wanted nothing to do with Lucic.

Will that put Benn in his place? Perhaps … at very least it will calm that action down.

Speaking of Benn … who puts their stick into a guy’s face through a net when he’s pinned to the mesh? Seems insane to me. Maybe I played the game with a little too much honour.

Can you do much more?

Nineteen first period shots.

Twenty second period shots.

And took almost two full minutes of a five on three for the Flames to finally solve Jake Oettinger and get on the board with a Rasmus Andersson powerplay goal.

With some bounces and some finish would have been a 4-1 game for Calgary after two … one because Jacom Markstrom made a bunch of good saves himself.

Tkachuk and the Mouth Guard

It’s funny how much of a lightning rod Matthew Tkachuk is to opposing fans.

One of the things they attack is his chewing of the mouth guard.

Something I’ve noticed though is how the number of players with twirling mouth guards hanging out of their mouths is on the rie.

Don’t have an official stat but it has to be 1/15 or 1/20 of NHLers use the mouth guard as a chew toy.

Johnny Gaudreau Has a Night

Takes a shoulder to the noggin in the first period, hits the ice a minute later for a powerplay shift and then gets pulled from the game (my assumption) by spotters.

Returns about five minutes later and then has himself a night.

A goal on a penalty shot, an assist on Elias Lindholm’s third of the series, and many more moments where he danced around the Dallas Star zone and created chance after chance.

Any thoughts that he wasn’t going appear in the playoffs can pretty much be cast away, as he was solid in game three, and very very good in game four.

Don’t Overlook Jacob Markstrom

So much attention given to Jake Oettinger in this series, while the guy that’s going to be named a Vezina finalist tomorrow has quietly been excellent on his own.

That has to be hard for a goaltender.

You’re playing well, but you have to play better to counter act the stellar play of the guy at the other end.

Tonight he didn’t get his second shut out of the season but he did stop 34 of 35 shots in helping the Flames to the big game four victory.

Through four games Markstrom has only given up four goals, Oettinger six.

Narrative might change.

Flames Powerplay

Neither team’s powerplay has been great through the series … or both teams have had excellent penalty killing. Oh and goaltending too.

The Flames did finally get one, and it was almost a game winner as they broke open a scoreless game with a two man advantage.

That’s two Calgary powerplay goals in the series, and with Tyler Seguin’s late goal two Dallas powerplay goals as well.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 54 Stars 35
Face Offs: Flames 56% / Stars 44%
Powerplay: Flames 1-5 / Stars 1-6

Fancy Stats

Honestly this one wasn’t all that close in any category. The Flames really never let up. 19 shots in the first period. 20 shots in the second period, and then another 16 shots in the third period as the Flames had the puck in the Dallas zone for a good share of the contest. Five on five the Flames had 66% of the shot attempts with period splits of 63%/69% and 68% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 71%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 74%, with a 20-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 64% of the shot attempts, 65% of the expected goals, and 69% of the high danger splits. As I said this one was never close, the Flames honestly dominated.

Individually the Flames were led by Dillon Dube with 82% in terms of xGF%. Nine different players were in the 70s led by Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev. Five players were in the 60s. Only one player, Erik Gudbranson was under water on the night.

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