Well everyone, after all the stressing, nail biting, and worrying, the Calgary Flames have finally turned the corner and escaped the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015. I don’t think that I have mentally recovered from this game yet to be completely honest. I woke up this morning nervous, said maybe five words throughout the day, and throughout the game, my heart rate has never been higher. I still have a headache from the stress this whole series caused me, but I am so glad to say that it is over. The Flames finally powered through, and solved Jake Oettinger.
Honestly, let’s talk about Oettinger. Throughout this whole series, this was one of the best goaltending performances that we have ever seen in the playoffs. To do that at his age with no experience in the playoffs is honestly remarkable. The Flames had 134 (!!!) shot attempts while the Stars only had 59 shot attempts. On top of that, the Flames tested Oettinger with a ridiculous 67 shots, Dallas only had 28. I honestly can’t even put into words the amount of emotional distress that Oettinger put me in during this round. He kept Dallas in this series the whole time.
Also, shoutout to these Flames fans. This was hilarious, and hey, I guess it worked?
Now, let’s talk some Flames.
Johnny Gaudreau is built for the playoffs
What a moment. What a game. What a player. Remember when we were all told that Johnny Gaudreau is not a playoff performer? He can’t rise to the biggest of occasions… Disappears when things get tough… Can’t handle the spotlight… I am not sure which Johnny Gaudreau they were talking about, because the only one that I know of just scored one of the most important goals in Calgary Flames history.
Not only did he score it, but it was off his patented Johnny Gaudreau snipe from the side of the net. A goal scorer’s goal.
The Flames needed this, but more importantly, Gaudreau needed this. He was flying this game and had so many chances. However, Oettinger, as he did all series, stood on his head. According to Natural Stat Trick, while Gaudreau was on the ice, at just 5v5, There were 19 scoring chances, with 6 of them being high-danger. The should-have-been Hart trophy finalist was not going to let this team lose. There was no chance.
Gaudreau wore the alternate captain patch on his jersey this game with Tanev out. I think that speaks volumes about what this team thinks about him, and his contributions not only on the ice, but in the locker room as well. This team would not be what it is today without the superstar Johnny Gaudreau. I honestly struggle to describe in words how much I love Johnny Gaudreau, but I think this gets the message across.
Also, this clip almost made me cry. I love this team.
The Flames fought it all
One thing that impressed me the most about this team is that despite Oettinger’s ridiculous performance, the Flames never lost confidence. At times my confidence was at an all-time low—especially after Game 6—but during every single media availability, the players always said that they are confident in their group.
I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been throwing so many chances at a goalie who just seemed like he was not human. I was losing my mind just watching it as a fan. However, in what was probably the closest series many of these players have ever experienced, they fought it, stuck to the game plan, and ultimately came out on top. This is exactly what you look for in a playoff team. It is incredible to see it from them this year.
Even during Game 7, the team faced a very early goal against from Jamie Benn which I know for a fact crushed me, but somehow didn’t crush the Flames. After they tied it, Vladislav Namestnikov scored not even a minute after to give the Stars a 2–1 lead. I was livid, and already planning how I was going to approach a Game 7 loss Afterburner.
Never have I been so glad to be wrong in my life. Even when I lost hope, the team battled until the end to not only tie the game, but to eventually win it in overtime. That type of perseverance is something you just love to see from this squad, and it shows me that this team knows exactly what the playoffs are about.
Edmonton is going to be big test
I honestly do not know if I will survive a battle of Alberta series. I know the media says that every hockey fan wants this, but I certainly did not when the playoffs first started. The Oilers finished the season under Jay Woodcroft with a ridiculous 26–9–3 record. This is a good team, a very good team. On top of that, they have Connor McDavid, who is always a problem.
But despite how good Edmonton has played, Calgary has showed all season long that they are one of the best teams in the NHL. Both their record, and their underlying numbers have proved that. This series against Dallas must have taught the roster a lot about playoff hockey, and I think that this experience will only help them for their next series against Edmonton.
The whole hockey world will be watching this series, and right now, I have no doubt in my mind that Calgary will be more than ready. Take a deep breath everyone, the Flames are finally off to Round 2.