Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t mince words before getting on a plane to Dallas on Friday morning about his team’s performance in Game 2. “We got our asses kicked on face-offs.”
The big difference between the Flames’ performances in Games 1 and 2 was their performance at the face-off dot.
Here’s a quick rundown of how each Flames centre fared against the Stars in each game. (We’ll ignore the wingers who took one or two face-offs apiece in each game and focus on the regulars for each team.)

Game 1

Glendening
Faksa
Benn
Pavelski
Hintz
Seguin
Backlund
0-2
1-1
2-2
0-1
Lewis
0-1
2-0
1-1
0-1
1-0
Lindholm
3-2
3-1
3-2
2-0
2-1
2-2
Jarnkrok
0-1
3-0
0-1
0-1
0-1
1-0
The Flames’ centres were generally good against Dallas in Game 1, winning 56% of draws overall (and 62% at even strength). Mikael Backlund won 40% of his overall draws, Calle Jarnkrok was 50% and Trevor Lewis was 57%. The big story was how dominant Elias Lindholm was, winning 15 of 23 overall (65%) and more importantly, he won the head-to-head match against five of Dallas’ six usual suspects (and the sixth, Tyler Seguin, was a draw).
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Heck, the game’s lone goal came off a face-off win on the Flames’ first power play by Lindholm against Radek Faksa. The Flames could’ve generated more on their special teams, but Lindholm was excellent on face-offs on the man advantage.

Game 2

Glendening
Faksa
Benn
Pavelski
Hintz
Seguin
Backlund
0-1
2-1
2-2
2-2
1-5
Lewis
0-1
1-0
0-1
0-1
Lindholm
1-3
3-2
0-2
1-1
3-1
Jarnkrok
0-1
1-4
3-0
2-1
0-1
3-1
The story wasn’t as rosy in Game 2, with the Flames winning just 43% of their draws (and 40% at even strength). The only centre who won more than half their draws was Jarnkrok (53%). Lewis only took four draws (he won one) so his percentages aren’t all that meaningful, but Backlund (42%) and Lindholm (44%) took a lot and weren’t terribly successful. It represented a big step back for Lindholm, but Backlund remained about as good (or bad) at the dot as he was in Game 1. Of note: the empty-net goal for Dallas that made it 2-0 was scored after Faksa beat Lindholm in a face-off in Dallas’ zone, leading to a clearance and a goal. If the Flames win that draw with the extra attacker, perhaps the game ends differently.
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The Stars really feasted on the Seguin/Backlund match-up at the dot, arguably moreso than any combination of players for either team in either game. Heading into Dallas, expect Rick Bowness to throw Seguin’s line (with Luke Glendening and Vladislav Namestnikov) out against the Backlund line as much as they can for draws.
Dallas has last change against the Flames due to having home ice for Games 3 and 4. And Dallas likely already has momentum based on their Game 2 victory and how well they performed at the face-off dot against the Flames. Needless to say, the Flames will need a lot more from their centres over the next two games if they want to leave Texas with a win or two under their belts.

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