Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars, 3:30 PM MT, Rogers Place, Edmonton AB
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN - Radio: Sportsnet 960
The playoffs begin in earnest for the Flames and Stars this afternoon as they hit the ice for Round 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Each team took a different route to get here with the Flames having to play an actual series against Winnipeg to get their seeding, whereas the Stars played three games in the Round Robin to find out their fate.
Calgary, Game 2 not withstanding, handled the Winnipeg Jets fairly easily. In their three wins in the series the Flames outscored the Jets 14-3, including a commanding, 4-0 Game 4 shut out to close the door. Calgary got scoring from all across the lineup with the line of Sam Bennett, Dillon Dube and Milan Lucic providing some much needed and surprising spark. Another pleasant surprise in the series in regards to offence was Sean Monahan. The Flames centre has been criticized (rightfully so) for his playoff performances, but he turned it up a notch against Winnipeg. Monahan led the Flames in goals (2), points (6) and assists (4), all while only taking 8 shots.
But the straw that really stirred the drink against Winnipeg was Cam Talbot. The Flames back-up keeper won the starting job as the RTP began and he never looked back. His .945 Save% was second best and his GAA of 1.51 is 9th best in the post season. The Flames have to be absolutely thrilled with his play and as playoff hockey goes, you ride the hot goalie until he’s no longer hot.
Speaking of goalies making a difference, welcome to the party Anton Khudobin. The Stars back-up took over for Ben Bishop and was solid between the pipes. Khudobin won Dallas’ only game so far and looks like the only/best option for Dallas between the pipes for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of injuries, the Stars went without their leading points producer in Tyler Segin in their 2-1 SOW over the St. Louis Blues. He was listed as “out” with an undisclosed injury, but prior to that he wasn’t setting the rink ablaze at all. In two of the Stars three games he failed to collect a point and had only five SOG. Whether he suits up, along with a struggling Jamie Benn (0 points in 3 games), could give the Flames an early advantage in this series.
The Flames and Stars typically play low scoring, boring, plodding, sludgy games, but the Flames were able to put some pucks in the net this season when playing Dallas. In Calgary’s two victories over Dallas this season the good guys were able to outscore the Stars 8-3 and the Flames offence looks very potent this post season. Dallas will have to stay out of the box because the Flames PP was clicking at times against Winnipeg. The Flames have the second best PP% during the RTP, going 5-17 with the man advantage (29.4%). Calgary is also 7th best in killing penalties, killing of 15 of the 17 times they found themselves short a skater. So the lesson is: stay out of the box and take advantage when the other team does something stupid.
Flames- Goals: Lindholm (29) Points: Tkachuk (61) PIM: Tkachuk (74) Save%: Talbot (.919)
Stars- Goals: Gurianov (20) Points: Seguin (50) PIM: Perry (70) Save%: Khudobin (.930)
Starting Goaltenders (E=Expected,C=Confirmed)
Flames: Talbot (E): 3-1-0, 1.51. GAA, .945 Save%
Stars: Khudobin (E): 1-1-0, 2.42 GAA, .919 Save%
What’s Happening With The Opposition?
Dallas Stars Coverage: Defending Big D
Last Time Out
Calgary Flames 4 - Winnipeg Jets 0
Dallas Stars 2 - St. Louis Blues 1 (SO)
Players To Watch
Sam Benentt (C): 3 points (2G 1A) and 22 hits in four games against Winnipeg
Miro Heiskanen (D): 4 assists and 8 shots in RTP