I genuinely think I have no word to describe what a pitiful performance that was by the Calgary Flames. I am going to try my best to come up with words, but it will not be pretty. In general, that is some of the worst Flames hockey I have seen in a very long time. This game brought flashbacks against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 playoffs, and I did not like it one bit. I am sad, angry, embarrassed, and disappointed. Let’s dive in, this is going to be a quick one.
In the last Afterburner, I asked for the Flames to come up with a better strategy to defend Connor McDavid. What they were doing clearly was not working, and something had to change. How did that turn out? Well McDavid put up another three points. So definitely not ideal. I understand that McDavid is just on another level right now when it comes to his play, but if you are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, it is time to maybe start looking like it.
You can not allow him to do whatever he wants on the ice every time he has a shift. He is the greatest player in the world, but with the Flames defensive performance, McDavid looks like he makes the Flames forget that they are playing hockey whenever he is on the ice. I think it is time to abandon this top line vs top line strategy, and only have Mikael Backlund‘s line defend the Oilers top line. It clearly isn’t working, and you may as well have your best defensive line play against the Oilers best offensive line. Either way, it is time to make some adjustments, because if they don’t, this series is going to end very quickly.
Outplayed from start to finish
Imagine allowing 21 shots on your net in the first period of the game. Now stop imagining it, because you really don’t have to as the Flames literally did this in Game 3. The Flames, who pride themselves on high volume shots looked lost and confused being on the other side of that equation.
In Game 1, the Oilers finished the game with 28 shots. The Oilers were 7 shots away from matching that in one period. That is humiliating for the Flames. It took Calgary 28 minutes and 44 seconds to finally have a whopping 10 shots on goal. That is not good. For the first time this series, and frankly all season, the Oilers looked like the better 5v5 team.
Again, Calgary showed all season that they are one of the best defensive teams in the league. Tonight they decided to throw all that away and to just leave Jacob Markstrom out to do all the defending for them while the rest of the team had fun doing incomplete passes and zone entries. All series long, the Flames said that they need to keep games at 5v5 as they are the better team in that situation. Game 3 was the polar opposite.
Somebody help Markstrom
Is Markstrom’s save percentage bad in this series? Absolutely. Markstrom must be pretty bad right now right? Not at all. This Flames team has failed Markstrom ever since Game 2. Tracing back to Game 2, every single goal that has been scored on Markstrom has either been caused by miscommunication when defending McDavid, a breakaway, or an odd-man rush. This Flames defence has completely crumbled this series and I do not know why. In Game 3 alone, every single goal was scored off an odd-man rush.
This is the exact style of hockey that you do not want to play against the Oilers, you will lose every time. I am sure the Flames know that, but after watching how they have played from Game 2 onward, it really looks like they don’t know that at all. Markstrom can not do this by himself. It is time that the Flames finally show up and help him.
Once again, Game 4 is a must win
Just like in the Dallas series, the Flames find themselves down 2–1 in the series. The difference between this series and the Dallas one is that the Flames outplayed the Stars in practically every game. This has not been the case with Edmonton. Game 3 was literally all Edmonton, and it was not close. If the Flames want any chance of winning this series, it is time that they show up and win Game 4.
With McDavid playing how he is, I can not see how the Flames can win three in a row if they lose Game 4. It is time to finally play some defence, show up for Markstrom, and play the hockey that they played all season. This is the Stanley Cup playoffs, now is not the time to look like you don’t care on the ice. Right now, the Flames look like they don’t, and it is time to prove that they do in Game 4.