The Calgary Flames are still favourites in their series against the Dallas Stars if you base on regular season metrics and performance. But if you look at the limited sample size of the playoffs… it’s not as quite clear cut. While the Flames have outplayed the Stars for the most part, they’ve come up short in the one area that wins games: scoring goals for and preventing goals against.
Now that the series has matured a little bit, what are the thoughts surround this Round 1 matchup? We asked, you answered.
Questioning the Flames’ playoff performance
The question at hand was posed after two games on thoughts on the Flames so far:
Now trailing 2–1 in the series, it’d be interesting to know how much these answers would shift.
We’ve broken down at length what to expect from these two teams based on regular season play, first by assessing their systems and then looking at the Stars’ aggregate performances to learn more about their team. What no one really expected was for the Flames to play so differently from their regular season.
Even when they secured a playoff spot and transitioned into their meaningless games prior to the postseason, they were still focused and were playing well as they ended up clinching the Pacific Division. However, whatever product is on the ice right now for Calgary is quite different from what they’ve been for 82 games, and very much different from a 111-point team.
What’s expected of Calgary
The way the poll broke down, even when tied 1–1, there was a reasonable split between those who believe in the Flames, and those who have been hurt by the Flames before.
This team is not too dissimilar from the Colorado Avalanche in the sense that they’re another team with playoff demons, although at least the Avalanche typically win a round to stave off total disappointment (not to mention they look more prepared than ever to put their demons to rest).
The problem with the Flames right now is that they are not playing like the team that won 50 games. They’re playing like a team that wants to impress their older brother Dallas, and Dallas simply does not care what the Flames do.
What’s to come in the series
Being as realistic as possible, the Flames are still favoured. If they get their regular season form back and ignore the side stories and just focus on executing their game, they can easily win three games out of the next four.
It might require tweaking their lines, it might require a clear message internally to stay out of the penalty box no matter how tempting it is to drop the gloves, or it might require a whole lot of luck that is out of their control.
The reality of the series so far is that for major parts of it, the Flames have truly been unlucky. But for the other parts, the Stars have been opportunistic and have exploited the Flames, preventing them from finding their groove.
The playoffs are meant to be grudge matches. The Stars seemingly excel in these situations while the Flames seem to stumble. Truth be told, the Flames did face some adversity in the regular season, and had plenty of highs coupled with plenty of lows, but playoff adversity is a different beast.
Will the Flames make the right adjustments and do so in time for it to be effective in Game 4? It’s abundantly clear that if they stay idle and just hope that the puck will eventually go in is a strategy that isn’t going to work. They need to open the floodgates and dominate a game, and they need to do it now.
Focusing on the next games
How are you feeling about the Flames? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire