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Five takeaways from the Calgary Flames’ Game 2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
Game 1 of the playoff Battle of Alberta was a track meet. Game 2 saw the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers handle things a little bit less chaotically, but the game was still pretty full of offense, action and momentum swings. The Oilers won 5-3 to tie the series at 1-1 heading back to Edmonton.
Here are five takeaways from Game 2.

The Flames carried play at five-on-five

In Game 1, the Flames borderline dominated play at full strength. In Game 2, the Flames weren’t quite as impressive, but they still carried play when nobody was in the penalty box. If nothing else, for the second consecutive game they went into the third period in a situation where if they won the period, they would win the game.
Via Natural Stat Trick, the Flames had an edge in Corsi (60.2%), Fenwick (59.7%), shots (56.0%), expected goals (57.5%), scoring chances (52.4%) and high-danger chances (66.7%). They were down in every category from Game 1, but they gave themselves a chance to win.

The Flames took too many penalties

Officiating is a tough job, and we’re not going to adjudicate penalties that could’ve been called against the Oilers. Simply put: the Flames gave Edmonton six power plays, and the Oilers got 11 shots, a goal, and tons of momentum from those advantages.
And before anybody says anything about the penalties the Flames did take: the majority of them were pretty blatant and hard to argue. As Darryl Sutter said post-game: “Stay out of the box.” The Flames were superb at five-on-five, but played the least five-on-five hockey so far in these playoffs at 36:54 – less than even their penalty-filled early games with Dallas.

Medium event hockey

The number is skewed slightly because of the lack of five-on-five play, but per Natural Stat Trick this game featured 12 combined high-danger chances at five-on-five. (If you include all even strength play, it’s 14 total high-danger chances.)
Three games in the Dallas series – Games 1, 2 and 5 – featured 10 or fewer high-danger chances at five-on-five. This game wasn’t that low, so instead of “low event” hockey, let’s call it medium event. The most eventful game so far this Flames playoff year was Game 7 against Dallas, with 30 combined high-danger chances at five-on-five. (Calgary had 22.)

The goalies were both better than in Game 1

Mike Smith and Jacob Markstrom were two of the three best goalies in the first round. They were both lit up in Game 1, with Smith getting pulled after three goals and Markstrom allowing six goals. Both were in net to begin Game 2, and they were both much stingier than in Game 1. (Though, admittedly, it would’ve been hard not to be.)
Smith was regularly greeted with Bronx cheers for routine saves by the Saddledome crowd, but both he and Markstrom regularly made big saves and it was usually high-danger chances with defenders nowhere to be found that gave them issues. Truth be told, the Flames were one superb Markstrom stop on one of those third period breakaway goals – from Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl, respectively – from having a chance to win. Markstrom was quite good, but they needed a bit more from him.
Per Hockey Reference, these were Markstrom’s first consecutive appearances giving up five (or more) goals since Feb. 17 & 20, 2021 – better known as the game where he was injured in a collision with Tanner Pearson, and the following start against Edmonton before he went on the injury reserve.

Holy cow, Connor McDavid

If Connor McDavid comes to your town, go see him. He’s almost always worth the price of admission, and he was excellent in Game 2. Simply put, he was the best player on the ice for either team for the second consecutive game, and his presence made the Flames put their focus on him to the point where his teammates got better scoring chances as a result.
He’s a special player and he has six points in the two games of this series so far. While McDavid arguably can’t be stopped, especially given how good he’s been so far, the Flames need to find a way to minimize his impact over the remaining three-to-five games of this series if they want to move onto the next round.
Game 3 is Sunday night in Edmonton.

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