The Western Conference playoffs will continue on Tuesday as the Dallas Stars take on the Flames in Calgary. The early post-season matchup will be only their third meeting in the tournament. They recently faced off in a Dallas victory en route to their Stanley Cup Final appearance against the Lightning in 2020. The Stars have had an up and down season with an underwhelming finish, going 3-3-1 in their last seven games. Calgary, on the other hand, has looked impressive. Finishing with a 50-21-11 record and the first seed in the Pacific, the Flames seem ready for a serious push.
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Jake Oettinger has been nothing short of solid in 2022. Following the departure of Ben Bishop last year, the Dallas Stars seemed to be playing goalie roulette as a true number one became highly elusive. Growing into his role, the 23-year-old has become a solid piece between the pipes for the Stars.
Jacob Markstrom has been a pillar for the Flames this season. After giving up 2.2 goals a game in the regular season and posting a .922 save percentage, Markstrom has settled in for a post-season run. The 32-year-old finished with a .919 SV% in the 2020 playoffs, facing a total of 491 shots. Look for the veteran to continue his dominant play in this series and help Calgary advance to the next round.
Dallas has struggled throughout the season with droughts from John Klingberg and the absence of Miro Heiskanen. With the addition of Ryan Suter, the Stars front office has sold out yet again for veteran leadership. Stars fans are hoping Klingberg will have a coming-out party this series as he only posted 47 points in 74 games played this season.
The Flames are definitely outmatched on the defensive end of the ice. Although they maintain some offensive firepower, Calgary will have to take serious strides on their blue line to shut down Dallas’ top line. If they can manage to do that, the Stars will have a hard time recovering, as their bottom lines have been struggling all year. Look for the Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Zadorov line to stand out this week.
Dallas has been struggling on special teams units this year. Although they’ve been average statistically, they have failed to get big goals when needed the most. Dallas seems to continue pushing their luck by holding the best record in the NHL for one-goal games.
Calgary has posted above league average numbers in both the power play and penalty kill units. If the Flames can stay out of the box, expect them to push Dallas to their limits, and take advantage with the extra man. With an 82.93% efficiency rating on the PK, look for Calgary to play a tight game when short-handed.
The Dallas top line of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski has been extremely productive in the 2021-2022 season. Scoring over 45% of the Stars’ goals this year, the mixture of young and seasoned has proven fruitful for Dallas. While many key players on the roster have been in a slump this year, the playoffs bring about hot streaks that no one can predict. Look for players like Alexander Radulov and Denis Gurianov to try and make a statement in this series.
Players like Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk present a critical threat to any team trying to stunt their offensive prowess. All three of these players scored at least 40 goals this year and are looking to do more damage in the coming weeks. Calgary definitely maintains the edge offensively in this series.
Killer Edge/ Game Breakers
The most important players for the Dallas Stars will be anyone not on the top line. Though the Stars have had incredible production from some of their oldest and youngest players, the rest of the roster will have to step up if Dallas has any hopes of advancing to the next round. Veterans like Klingberg, Radulov, Benn, and Seguin will all need to have huge moments for the Stars to advance.
Calgary has the artillery to go deep in this year’s playoffs. Gaudreau posted a career year. Carding 40 goals and 75 assists through the regular season, the young forward finished with 115 points. Expect Johnny Hockey to have a great series.
Rick Bowness Has received a lot of criticism from the fan base in Dallas this year. Although he advanced the team to the cup final in 2020, His decision-making has been in question regarding being too old-school. Stars fans can only hope that experience will pay off in this series.
Darryl Sutter has hockey running through his veins. Five of his six brothers also played in the NHL. Sutter served eighteen years under the Los Angeles Kings and brought them to Stanley Cup championships. The longtime coach is known for pushing his team and getting the most out of his men. So expect a cutthroat approach from the brute behind the bench in this face-off.
The Flames are a clear favorite in this series. With a younger roster and offensive talent that can match any team in the league, Calgary is looking to light fireworks in the opening round of the playoffs. The series could get ugly if Dallas has trouble producing from their bottom lines. Although Pavelski and Robertson have put on a show this season, they cannot carry the load for an entire series. Look for the Flames To shut down Dallas’ first line and hope the rest of the Domino’s will fall.
Series Prediction: Calgary 4-2
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