Stars Return to Dallas Deadlocked with the Flames

Call it what you will, Stars Hockey is keeping this series competitive, and that can’t sit well with Calgary.

The hockey universe is up in arms. The Dallas Stars are ruining “the beautiful game”.

The resulting piece is a solid analysis of the tactics used by both sides.

I’m a bit sympathetic, especially to the general hockey fan tuning in to Dallas/Calgary after watching one or more of the other first round series.

It’s a bit like you got tickets to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness only to find yourself in the theater watching The Seventh Seal. There’s a bunch of plague and death, and by the end, not a whole lot has happened.

Welcome to Stars Hockey, the sporting equivalent of the Danse Macabre. When you were promised that this team was built for the playoffs and that the offense would take care of itself, this is what that meant. And don’t scoff - the Stars brought this series back to Texas all tied up.

Is that going to be enough for these major underdogs to pull out a series win? Hard to say. But given that the experts had Calgary running away with this matchup, Dallas has already gotten people’s attention.

If you’re looking for game three adjustments, I’m not sure that you’re going to see any on the Stars side. Game two was the poster child for this team/this year.

Defensive pairings may not be what you see in pre-game skate. Esa Lindell and Jani Hakanpaa are pairing up against the Flames top line, leaving John Klingberg and Joel Hanley together. Looking at the microstats, those pairings are both working, with Lindell/Hakanpaa keeping it low event and Klingberg/Hanley leading the team in expected goal percentage (xG%).

The Stars do need to find a way to score - I might suggest declining penalties to stay off the power play, but the 5x5 play hasn’t done much either. I’d also suggest staying away from 4x4, where the Flames seem to use the open ice to their advantage.

That may be one of the strategies that Darryl Sutter employs moving forward, especially if the officials insist on ignoring instigation and just take two players in any scrum.

You have to think at this point that Calgary still thinks that their game plan will work. Dallas has pushed the Flames to the outside, but plan “A” for that is to just go harder into those dirty areas.

These are two old school coaches, and first adjustments are going to be more “player compete” than they are tactical. It’s more do what you’re supposed to do, and if it hasn’t worked to date, just try harder.

Game three will not be for the faint of heart.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Michael Raffl (18) - Jamie Benn (14) - Denis Guvianov (34)
Vladislav Namestnikov (92) - Radek Faksa (12) - Luke Glendening (11)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Marian Studenic (43)

Ryan Suter (20) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Joel Hanley (44) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Calgary Flames Lineup

Johnny Gaudreau (13) - Elias Lindholm (28) - Matthew Tkachuk (19)
Andrew Mangiapane (88) - Mikael Backlund (11) - Tyler Toffoli (73)
Dillon Dube (29) - Calle Jarnkrok (91) - Blake Coleman (20)
Milan Lucic (17) - Trevor Lewis (22) - Brett Ritchie (24)

Noah Hanifin (55) - Rasmus Andersson (4)
Oliver Kylington (58) - Chris Tanev (8)
Nikita Zadorov (16) - Erik Gudbranson (44)

Jacob Markstrom (25)
Daniel Vladar(80)

Keys to the Game

Goaltending. Both Markstrom and Oettinger have been great, so far.

Special Teams. Nothing much has come of this so far, but there have been plenty of opportunities, and Calgary has been the much more dangerous group. 5x5 has been pretty even, but the Stars won’t win the series if they can’t even things up on the PK, PP and 4x4.

Finishing. Both teams have had trouble hitting the net on their high danger chances. When the opportunity arises, make the goaltender make a save.