The Calgary Flames beat the Dallas Stars by a 3-2 score in Game 1 of their first round playoff series. The win gives them a 1-0 series lead.
Here’s how the Flames managed to come out on top.
Lucic at the dot
The Flames’ third line of Milan Lucic, Dillon Dube and Sam Bennett was excellent once again.
In a weird quirk of Game 1, Lucic actually took all of the face-offs for the line. Dube and Bennett took none whatsoever. Lucic had a lot of success, going 11-for-16 at the dot and winning more draws than anybody else in the entire game.
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) August 12, 2020
Lucic took 13 face-offs, total, during the qualifying round.
Speaking after the game, Flames interim coach Geoff Ward didn’t have anything particularly magical to say about Lucic taking all his line’s draws. He simply noted that Lucic had success at it in the past and since having the puck is important to their game-plan, they opted to go with him. (Having the beefy Lucic able to battle for loose pucks off draws was also probably a plus for Calgary.)
Dube scores goals
Dube led the team in all situations in terms of generating scoring chances and high-danger chances. (He was one shot behind Derek Forbort for the team lead.) He had two first period goals to pace the team, including an absolutely great individual effort.
— Here's Your Replay (@TheReplayGuy) August 11, 2020
After the game, Dube noted in the media Zoom chat that he just wanted to challenge Stars defender Andrej Sekera and when he realized he had a step on Sekera he decided to cut to the net.
This was Dube’s first multi-goal effort in the NHL.
Special teams shine
Stop us if this sounds familiar:
- The Flames scored a power play goal.
- The Flames didn’t allow any opposing power play goals.
- The Flames PP out-scored the other team’s PP.
In Game 2, the Jets PP out-scored the Flames’. The Flames lost.
In Games 1 and 3, the Flames PP out-scored Winnipeg’s. In Game 4, they held them even. The Flames won all those games.
Simply put: when the Flames can win the special teams battle, or even just cancel it out, they’re undefeated in this post-season.
And now, it gets busy
The Flames and Dallas play again on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. MT. And then again 24 hours after, on Friday at 8:30 p.m. And then roughly 39 hours after that, on Sunday afternoon at noon.
Dallas has previously played a spaced-out schedule: round robin games on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Meanwhile, the Flames played four games – Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday – before Dallas even played their third.
With three games, really four, in rapid-fire succession, the Flames may have an advantage in terms of knowing how to manage themselves in such a situation (having done so last week). As for the Stars, time will tell how they’ll fare.