About Last Night Playoff Round 1 Game 4: Special Teams Not Enough For Flames, Stars Even the Series.

Opportunistic special teams play was almost enough, but the Flames couldn’t hang on long enough to secure the victory. Joe Pavelski opened the scoring late in the first, but was answered quickly by Johnny Gaudreau on the power play. The two teams then traded goals. Pavelski scored on a bullet shot on a two on one break, and Sam Bennett scored on a rolling puck slapper from the point, making the most of his time on the first power play unit.

Denis Gurianov answered soon after for the Stars with a wicked one timer on the power play, but Sam Bennett continued to have the hot hand, scoring on a nice rebound chance created by Milan Lucic. Then in the third period, Tobias Rieder continued his remarkable stretch of penalty kill offence, scoring his third shorthanded goal of these playoffs. The goal was created by a beautiful pass from Derek Ryan, who had his most significant game in a while.

Unfortunately for the Flames, it was pretty much downhill from there. The Stars dominated the third period, launching attack after attack without the Flames producing much offence the other way. Jason Dickinson seemed to tie the game late in the third, but a successful Geoff Ward challenge overturned the goal for goalie interference. But the Stars continued to push, and with 11.9 seconds remaining, Pavelski slid in a rebound to complete the hat trick.

OT was back and forth, until Alex Radulov tipped in a John Klingberg point shot with just under four minutes remaining, sealing the game and bringing the Stars back into the series.

Statistical Breakdown

5v5 SVACF%SCF%HDCF%xGF%
38.98%26.92%22.22%26.94%
61.02%73.08%77.78%73.06%

Team Stats

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
  • Alan Quine had limited minutes, but by far the best CF% on the team, with 63.64%
  • Andrew Mangiapane had an uncharacteristically awful night, finishing with a CF% of just 25.93%. His line struggled mightily without Matthew Tkachuk.
  • Elias Lindholm led the game in hits with 7. The Flames have had a clear edge in terms of physicality in this series, and it has been one of the best parts of their game.
Opponent
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

As the stats suggest, the Flames got buried in game four at five on five. Getting 39% of the shot attempts is not going to get it done very often, especially when your goalie doesn’t steal the game for you. Talbot was fine in this one, but the Flames cannot keep getting shelled at even strength and expect better results.

One of the worst culprits in this game was the Mikael Backlund line. Playing without Matthew Tkachuk, Backlund centered Mangiapane and Rieder, and the results were awful. The line collectively had a CF% of just 29.41%, and has yet to create much offence. Mangiapane specifically has been really quiet this series. He hasn’t registered a point, and has only managed three shots on goal. Its hard playing without Tkachuk, but Mangiapane needs to be better.

One positive to come out of this game was some signs of life from Gaudreau and the top line. It was not their best game by any means, but they had a few chances off the rush, and Gaudreau had a great chance to ice the game in OT. It wasn’t much, but seeing that line get something going at even strength is something to build on.

Lastly, it would be impossible not to mention the Flames special teams. The power play has looked shaky at times, but has been producing at a good clip. According to Natural Stat Trick, Calgary has the third most efficient power play in these playoffs, scoring more than 12 goals per 60 minutes of power play time. Two power play goals in this game were the only reason the Flames had a chance. The first came on a Lindholm shot and rebound that was exactly how the Flames drew it up. The second was a knuckle puck from Bennett that was how nobody drew it up. Does this matter? No, not particularly. But was does matter is the fact that they seem to be getting shots through, and getting the puck into the dangerous areas. Thats a good formula.

On the penalty kill, credit Rieder and Ryan for making a pretty impressive play for the Flames fourth goal. But goodness, this team takes way too many penalties. Five minors in one game in the playoffs is too many. Was the reffing good? No not particularly, but the Flames need to stay out of the box, especially with the lead. The shorthanded scoring has been great, but it wont last.

And the final note goes to Sam Bennett. He has been the best player on the team during this series, and is continuing to get rewarded. He has been very physical, and is impacting the game in multiple ways. Bonus points for adding another power play marker. When Matthew Tkachuk went down, Bennett stepped right up. He still took two minor penalties, but hey, beggars cant be choosers. Playoff Bennett is a sight to see.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY

Good: Bennett stayed hot, and Milan Lucic continued his run of offensive production. The third line has been the team’s best. And it isn’t close.

Bad: The team got absolutely crushed at five on five. Not good enough.

Ugly: Rieder had a wide open net in overtime, only to have his stick break on the one timer. Then on the Stars winning goal, another broken Calgary stick was a factor in the goal. A clear sign from the Hockey Gods that the team did not deserve to win.

Next Game

Opponent: Dallas Stars
Record: 37-24-8
Standings: 3rd in the Central
Regular Season Series: 2-1-0


Photo by: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

2 thoughts on “About Last Night Playoff Round 1 Game 4: Special Teams Not Enough For Flames, Stars Even the Series.

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