In the most disrespectful way possible, that is the Calgary Flames that we are all used to seeing in the playoffs. Outplayed from start to finish. No urgency. No motivation. Literally no anything against a team who had their backs against the wall with their season on the line. This game showed us exactly what we all have already seen from this team in the playoffs in the past.
The Flames had a chance to deliver a knockout punch to the Dallas Stars and end their season. Instead, they decided to play a game like it was a shinny game at your local rink. In this one series, the Flames have managed to play one of the best playoff games we have seen in years, and one of the worst as well.
Somehow the worst one came in an elimination game.
Every single player should be motivated to play the best game that they have played in their life. A team that has consistently said that they are different from 2017, 2019, and 2020. They have players with experience in the playoffs now. They traded for depth during the season. This is the deepest team we have seen in years! You expect your team to show up, and boy did they… not.
This is going to a very painful Afterburner everybody.
The Flames looked like they were told just five minutes before puck drop that faceoffs are a part of the game and that they need to learn how to do them quick. Dallas won 68% of the draws. It was not close and it was very evident on the ice. Dallas was able to control possession and keep the Flames stuck in their own zone a lot more often than we have previously seen. Dallas showed up. Plain and simple.
If you want to win games, you need the puck. Last time I checked, winning a face off gives you possession of the puck. The Flames on the other hand, looked like they would rather keep the puck away from them.
The only Flames players who won 50% of their draws were Dillon Dube (not a centre in the NHL), and Trevor Lewis (technically a centre, but not a natural one). Everyone else? Below 50%. To say that isn’t good enough is honestly an understatement. That is embarrassing.
Outshot and out-chanced
This is the first game this series that the Stars outshot the Calgary Flames in a game. The Flames ended the first period with shots at 18–10 in their favour. They were down 1–0, but overall they were playing fine. They were getting chances, and if they stuck to that play, they were bound to find a goal.
They did the exact opposite of sticking to their play during the second and third period. I have no clue how you can have such a drop off after one period. What was said in that locker room? Dallas stormed back in the second period with 17 shots on goal. How did the Flames respond? With a whopping nine shots on goal.
It gets even better too. The Stars had a CF% of 66%, HDCF% of 67%, and an xGF of 1.42. I said it earlier, but the Flames were so lucky to even get two goals in this period. Calgary literally gave this game to the Dallas Stars on a silver platter. Take a look at this chart from our Flames Visual Recap and witness the epic collapse from the Flames in the second.
The one thing that the Flames did better than the Stars was embarrass themselves, that is for sure. It was a great showing in the embarrassing per 60 (E/60) column for the Flames. I honestly think it might be an NHL record. Dallas beat the Flames, but wow did the Flames ever beat themselves too.
Do they want to be here?
I genuinely do not know the answer to this question. Game 4 was the best game we have seen from the Flames this series. It was the best playoff game we have seen in years from this team. They looked like they finally arrived, and that they wanted to be in the playoffs for a long long time. Last night, it looked like they would rather be anywhere else.
Did they have guest list at some club in Dallas that they had to make? It literally looked like they would rather be anywhere else than be on the ice, and do the job that they have been paid to do. Outside of Jacob Markstrom, who made another incredible save to keep the Flames in the game, and Johnny Gaudreau, who had the highest xGF on the roster of 1.37, the rest of the roster was fast asleep.
Johnny Gaudreau let his team have it after the empty net goal. And rightfully so. He silenced all the haters who said he didn’t have what it took to succeed in the playoffs. He’s carried this team so far, and it is absolutely understandable when he does everything he can to clinch the series in Game 6, but the rest of his teammates abandon him.
Gut check time
In case you need a reminder, it has been seven long years since the Flames have advanced a single round in the playoffs. The last time they made the second round, they only lasted five games onwards. This team has consistently shown year after year that they do not want playoff success badly enough.
Will 2022 be another year of the same? One of the best teams in the regular season choking it away to the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential? It sounds like a classic Calgary Flames story. Olivia Rodrigo said it best, with this team: “It’s always one step forward and three steps back.”
Change the narrative. That’s all I can say. It is time that they change the narrative. If they want the fans to have hope and cheer them on during the playoffs, it is up to this franchise to finally give this long suffering fanbase a reason to cheer. Literally any reason. If the Flames lose Game 7, it will the most monumental collapse that we have ever seen from this franchise.
Change. The. Narrative.