One down and three more to go before the Calgary Flames can say that they have finally escaped the first round after seven long years. Flames fans are in some combination of happy, stressed, excited, nervous, energized, and panicky. That’s how you know playoff hockey is back! What transpired in Game 1 was a total mix of all of these emotions.
Dallas could not get a shot
To put it simply, Calgary was on full shut down mode, especially in the first period. The Flames could have played the first eleven minutes of the first period with no goalie, and they still would have been up 1-0. It was just pure dominance for the Flames in the first period, and Darryl Sutter hockey was in full effect. The Flames ended the period out shooting the Dallas Stars 11–3, and that is with the Stars getting two power plays in the first. Of those three shots from the Stars, one was from Jamie Benn at centre ice. Not exactly a high-danger chance.
We have become accustomed to the Flames outshooting their opponents and limiting their chances against throughout the season, and the fact that they were able to continue this play in the playoffs has me hopeful. To quote Anna from Frozen, “For the first time in forever,” it felt like the Calgary Flames were playing a playoff game that they did not have to chase and hold onto for dear life.
Klingberg should maybe try getting out of the way
Just like in the 2020 NHL Playoffs, John Klingberg was being sought out and targeted by the Flames. He got wrecked three times in the first period, with one of them being this absolute obliteration from Tkachuk.
Before we continue about Klingberg though, be honest, how much did you miss Tkachuk in the playoffs? If you are a Flames fan, your answer is probably “a ton.” We don’t need to talk about what other fans would say to that question.
Usually, I wouldn’t make a big deal about Klingberg getting hit three times. However, he only played 7:23 this game, as he (for some reason?) decided to fight Rasmus Andersson and give himself a game misconduct and a beating in the span of ten seconds.
Albeit, Andersson probably should not have fought him and it was not smart to get himself kicked out of the game as well, but the point still stands. If Klingberg played his usual 22 minutes instead, he would have maybe faced around nine hits this game. For all you advanced stats fans out there, that is a wrecked per 60 (W/60) of 24. Am I cherry picking stats a bit? Maybe. Did I just make up a stat called “wrecked per 60”? 100% yes I did. But at the end of the day, that would not be a fun time on the ice for one of the league leaders in W/60.
Klingberg had some very kind and sweet words about Rasmus Andersson following the game:
To be fair, if I was hit like he was on national television, I would try and play it off like Klingberg did during the media scrum too. Taylor Swift once said, “You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.” I hope Klingberg listens to this in Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince and really lets this lyric marinate before he decides to drop the gloves again.
Flames fourth line dominance
Yes you read that right—the fourth line was dominant. And no, Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm were not demoted to the fourth line. I am talking about Milan Lucic, Trevor Lewis, and Brett Ritchie. This line was keeping the puck in the offensive zone, cycling, winning puck battles, and led the whole roster with a CF% of 77.78 according to NaturalStatTrick. Keep in mind, this is while spending a lot of their ice time against the Stars’ elite top line with Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz. To say that it was an impressive performance is honestly an understatement.
It’s no secret that the Flames have really strengthened their depth throughout the season. Adding Toffoli, Jarnkrok, and Carpenter, allows for things like this to happen. Depth is key if you want to succeed in the playoffs and it is very apparent that the Flames know this too. If the fourth line can keep up this play against a Stars team that lacks much depth outside of their top line, watch out.
The Flames need a little more
Despite the win, and despite being in control this game, I do think the Flames need to be better. Their only goal was on the power play, and at 5v5, they only had three HDCF, while allowing three HDCA. Don’t get me wrong, they did not play poorly by any means, but for a team that won the Pacific Division, allowed the fifth fewest shots against in the regular season, and generated a ton of their offence at 5v5 throughout the season, I think we need to see more results at 5v5.
However, I am not worried. It’s nice to see the Flames win the first game and set the tone, and I am sure that they will make the small, but necessary adjustments to give themselves a chance to win this round. We all know that Dallas will be looking to play with an edge and will come back fighting in Game 2, so it is up to the Flames to keep up this momentum.
Want more action from Game 1? Get caught up with last night’s win by checking out the visual recap that includes data visualisations and breakdowns on game events, shot locations, shift charts, and more!