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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

Playoff FGD: Onto Round 1 (3:30pm MT, CBC/SN)

Folks, welcome to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. After advancing through the qualifying round, the Calgary Flames have earned themselves a best-of-seven meeting with the Dallas Stars. The Stars didn’t quite shine during their round robin play, while the Flames looked superb against Winnipeg. Can the Flames ride their current wave of momentum into Game 1?

The puck drops for Game 1 at 3:30 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet’s national feed (with Chris Cuthbert and Louie DeBrusk) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias). Yeah, we know, it’s an afternoon game on a weekday. Just sneak out of work early. We won’t tell anybody.

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The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tkachuk
Lucic – Bennett – Dube
Jankowski – Ryan – Rieder

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Forbort – Gustafsson

No changes are expected for the Flames for Game 1 from their final game with the Jets. Cam Talbot starts again in Game 1 and is backed up by David Rittich. The projected extras are Zac Rinaldo, Austin Czarnik, Byron Froese, Alan Quine, Buddy Robinson, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Alexander Yelesin, Jon Gillies and Artyom Zagidulin.

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The Flames are feeling good about their game and are about as healthy as a team can be after a playoff series. They didn’t blow the doors off Winnipeg at five-on-five, but their special teams were excellent (aside from a Game 2 performance that Elias Lindholm referred to as “sloppy” multiple times). In what’s probably bound to be a tight-checking, low-scoring series at even strength, they’ll need to continue to be damn sharp with the extra man and stingy when a man down.

This is the first game in a stretch that’ll see the Flames play four games in five and a half days. We’ve discussed their depth – aside from Froese and the goalies, everybody on the playoff roster has spent time with the Flames since October – but we’ll see how useful that depth can be in this type of high intensity situation.

The Stars

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Janmark – Pavelski – Radulov
Benn – Hintz – Seguin
Gurianov – Dickinson – Perry
Comeau – Faksa – Cogliano

Lindell – Klingberg
Oleksiak – Heiskanen
Sekera – Johns

Dallas hasn’t tipped off their goalie yet, but it’ll be either Anton Khudobin or Ben Bishop. The projected extras are Nick Caamano, Jason Robertson, Justin Dowling, Joel Hanley, Taylor Fedun, Gavin Bayreuther, Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, Joel Kirivanta, Landon Bow and Jake Oettinger.

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The Stars took one game during the three game round robin, scoring five goals and allowing 10. To reiterate: the Stars had five goals (total) while the Flames had five players with multiple goals over a four game series. That said, there’s no way the Stars can be as sloppy and disjointed as they looked in the round robin. They’re bound to find their confidence and swagger, and to get some puck luck, and the Flames likely hope they can steal a game or two before Dallas gets their legs under them.

The Numbers

Flames Stars
Wins 3 1
Adjusted Corsi 49.6% 37.5%*
Power Play 29.4% 11.1%
Penalty Kill 88.2% 83.3%

*- The NHL’s shot data for the Dallas/St. Louis game is hot garbage, so possession stats are only available for the two games that Dallas lost.

Unfit to Play Report

The Flames are without D Travis Hamonic (opted out).

According to Stars coach Rick Bowness, they’re fully healthy. G Ben Bishop, D Taylor Fedun and F Tyler Seguin all missed the game against St. Louis by virtue of being unfit to play.

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When Last We Met

The Flames won the season series by a 2-1-0 margin. The Flames won 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 10 (goals from Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanfin; 34 saves by David Rittich). The Stars won 3-1 on Nov. 13 (goal from Sean Monahan; 29 saves by Cam Talbot). The Flames won 5-1 on Dec. 22 (goals from Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Derek Ryan and Monahan; 26 saves by Rittich).

The last time they played each other was nearly eight full months ago, so all of this history is obviously indicative of the near future.

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some key Twitter peeps to follow for tonight: