The Calgary Flames were only shut out twice during the 82 game 2021–22 regular season. Despite this, the Flames managed to find a way to get shut out in only their second game of the playoffs. If you missed the game and can’t find any highlights, I would recommend watching paint dry to get a feel of how this game went.
Honestly, near the 10 minute mark of the second period, I was really wondering how I was going to be able to write this edition of the Afterburner with how frustrating and frankly boring this game was. But after a very therapeutic carpool karaoke session on my drive home, a cup of chai, and a couple handfuls of Cheetos, I am ready to go. The Calgary Flames have not won a single Game 2 since 2004. Let’s see why they once again failed to win a Game 2 last night.
Spoiler alert: they did not score a goal and lift me up from this sadness. Hey Siri, play Marvins Room.
No room for anything to happen
This game was a a challenge to stay awake for. There is no other way to put it. The Flames had an incredibly hard time countering Dallas’ defensive structure. At times it felt like Flames fans should have been planning a parade to celebrate the rare occasion when the Flames were even able to enter the offensive zone and give the Stars some sort of sustained pressure. Dallas was giving nothing to the Flames and it was incredibly frustrating to watch.
Calgary struggled to keep possession of the puck, and it was really shown when Noah Hanifin turned the puck over to Jason Robertson who set up Joe Pavelski for the first goal of the game. One would think the Flames would have realized that giving the puck away probably isn’t a good idea and would have stopped doing that, however they continued to give away the puck 21 times compared to Dallas who only did it eight times.
Yes, you read that correctly. Calgary had 21 giveaways and Dallas only had eight. I’m no hockey coach, but I think having 13 more giveaways than your opponent is not a good thing.
There was a wall in front of Oettinger
First of all, we have to address how good Oettinger was last night. For only his second ever NHL playoff start, he looked like a goalie that has been in this situation millions of times. Calm, cool, and collected. On top of this however, was Dallas and their defence showing up. During the few times that it looked like the Flames might be turning a corner and might score, their shots got blocked. The Flames had a very tough time finding the net. Dallas managed to block 20 of Calgary’s shots. Calgary had 65 shot attempts compared to Dallas who only had 34. Despite this, Calgary was only able to hit the net 29 times out of the 65 times they tried.
Too many of those shots as well were way too far away and with no traffic in front of Oettinger. Simply put, that is not good enough. If Calgary wants to have any chance of winning this series, they need to find a way to find their way through the traffic and hit the target. Challenge Dallas and don’t make it easy for them. This is the responsibility of the team, but it starts with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Linholm. We need more from the those three. At the end of the day, you can’t score a goal if you can’t register a shot.
Is 4-on-4 the new 5-on-5?
I’m joking, and I pray that the answer is no. If you watched Game 2 however, you would think that the answer was yes. Half of the first period was played at 5v5, and only 12 minutes of the second period was at 5v5. When only 41 minutes of the game is played at even strength, it is tough to really find a groove and settle in to the flow of the game.
The good news if you are a Flames fan however, is that it seemed like the Flames were the “better” team at 5v5. They led the CF% with 65.63%, and they had a xGF% of 54.89%. It’s not like the Flames were dominating the Stars at 5v5, because that is really not even close to the case, but at times it seemed like the Flames were finally starting to figure out how to find some scoring chances.
However once that happened, a whistle was blown, and a power play or 4v4 hockey followed. The Flames were one of the best teams at 5v5 during the regular season, and they didn’t have much opportunity to showcase that in last night’s game.
No need to panic, the sky is not falling
I know this post has been pretty negative, and honestly it should be. But I want you to think back to 2020, 2019, and 2017. Every single game the Flames played, they were outshot, out-chanced, and outplayed. Have you ever seen your bus about to leave from its stop, tried to run for it, thought to yourself “hey I might actually make it,” and seen the bus drive off and leave you behind a second after? That’s basically how every single playoff game felt during these years.
This playoff game did not feel like that. Dallas played well, but Calgary made it too easy for them. Not giving Dallas enough pressure, sloppy passes, and weak shot attempts is what lost this game for Calgary. On paper, Calgary is the better team by far, and I think almost every single person who follows the NHL would agree. The good thing about this, is that turning this series around is fully in the Flames’ control. They don’t need to hope that Dallas needs to show up, Calgary just needs to decide to show up. If the Flames want to fix this, they 100% can.
It’s the first round of the NHL playoffs, Game 3 is played in Dallas on Saturday, hopefully the Flames and their top players show up.