Welcome to the third edition of the Afterburner. If you are actually reading this, then you are much stronger than I am. Props to you for being willing to relive this game. I would love to say that I am surprised about the outcome from last night, but at this point, this is just the price of admission for being a Calgary Flames fan in the playoffs.
As soon as Pavelski got his second goal of the game, I knew it was over, and I am sure I am not the only one. Another game that was close, but not close enough. Stop me if you have heard that before.
The series is only 2–1, and there are at least two more games to play. Technically, the series isn’t even close to over. But honestly, to quote Taylor Swift in Exile, “I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending.” This is the Calgary Flames fan experience.
I would like to start off this post with a poem by our own Bill Tran that sums up my feelings.
We need to talk about Matthew Tkachuk
To keep it short and not so sweet, I have had enough. Matthew Tkachuk has to stop looking for a fight as soon as the game starts. He is one of the team’s most important, maybe even the most important, forward on the ice. Usually, it’s nice to have players like that on the ice, and not sitting in the box for five minutes.
On top of that, no disrespect to Klingberg, but he is literally not worth this. Tkachuk needs to realize that when he consistently tries to fight Klingberg and they both get sent to the box, that favours Dallas. Every. Single. Time. I love Tkachuk, but enough is enough.
I understand that Klingberg said some not so nice things after a game. I understand that Tkachuk and the Flames want to get back at him for doing that, and rightfully so. However, do you want to know the best way they can get back at Klingberg? Score. Goals. Win. Games. That’s what matters most during the playoffs and Tkachuk and the Flames seem to not realize that.
Johnny Gaudreau gets a lot of talk when it comes to disappearing in the playoffs, and don’t get me wrong I think he needs to improve as well, but putting yourself in the penalty box for five minutes and then having to go back to the locker room for repairs and miss even more ice time is quite literally how you disappear from the playoffs. Tkachuk is needed on the ice. Fight when it makes sense. So far during this series, it has never made sense.
Jakob Markstrom was spectacular
This is going to be the only positive section of the Afterburner. Jacob Markstrom really kept the Flames in this game. Time after time the Stars had chances that looked like for sure goals, but Markstrom managed to make key saves at the right times. Especially this outstanding save. Potential save of the playoffs perhaps.
Without Markstrom, this game would have gotten very ugly, very fast. Dallas had so many chances to put this game away, and they had the Flames stuck in their own zone a couple times as well. At times like these, I am so glad that the Flames went out and finally got an elite goalie in free agency.
At the same time however, I thought that when the Flames signed Markstrom, that would solve the Flames playoff struggles. Clearly, there is much more going on with this franchise. Markstrom can only do so much for this team, it’s time that the players around him support him.
It is time to put Coleman back on the second line
Honestly, it was time for this a game or two ago. But now, with the Flames down in the series, Blake Coleman taking on the RW position on the second line is a must. Tyler Toffoli has not ben able to show up, and adjustments need to be made. Back when Coleman was on the second line, that line was elite.
According to MoneyPuck.com, for all forward lines who have played at least 300 minutes together during the regular season, the Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Coleman line had the second highest xGF% (63.7), and the lowest xGA (9.9). A line that both generates offence and defends well? Sounds exactly like something the Flames need right now.
Toffoli had a great start with the Flames when he was acquired. However, he has extremely cooled off. Toffoli has only registered three goals in his last 27 games. In the most respectful way possible, that is not second line production. We know Coleman works on this line, so please Sutter, I am begging you, it’s time to make the change.
Joe Pavelski owns the Calgary Flames
Move over, Murray Edwards. Joe Pavelski is now the owner of the Calgary Flames franchise, and it is incredibly frustrating to watch. We saw this in 2020 when Pavelski scored four goals against the Flames in their playoff series, and we are seeing it again this time around. Pavelski is already up to three goals this series, and he is already haunting the Flames. I know for a fact that I am having nightmares about Pavelski already.
What I can’t seem to understand though, is that one of the best defensive teams in the regular season can’t seem to figure out how to defend one player. Dallas has played well don’t get me wrong, but this series for Dallas has been all Oettinger and Pavelski. All year long we were told that this Flames team is “built for the playoffs” and “can play anyway that they want to,” now what I am seeing is that they are playing down to Dallas’ level, and are paying the price big time.
Game 4 is a must win
Monday night is the night where the future of this Flames team is decided. The Flames can not, and I repeat, can not afford to go down 3–1 in this series. Adjustments have to be made, the Flames need to be relentless, disciplined, and they need to give Dallas more pressure. We saw this Flames team do this for 82 games this year. It is long overdue that we see the Flames do this in literally one playoff game.