In another low-scoring, tight-checking 60 minutes of playoff hockey, the Calgary Flames hosted the Dallas Stars on Thursday evening in Game 2 of their first round series. The game featured one goal scored on an actual goalie, and then Dallas added an empty-netter to win 2-0 and even the series up at one win apiece heading back to Dallas for the next two games.
Here are the big takeaways from Game 2.

Traffic is too light around Jake Oettinger

Here’s the play that the Stars’ social media team chose as the best play of the game.
The play is a rush shot by Mikael Backlund that Jake Oettinger saw the entire way, followed by a slight scramble off the rebound. That’s it. It’s fairly representative, too, of how Oettinger played. He was really good, but he saw just about everything. No tips. No screens. No traffic in front of the blue paint.
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If life remains easy for Oettinger, the series won’t be easy for the Flames.

Dallas is doing a nice job of boxing the Flames out

Via Natural Stat Trick, here are the offensive heat maps for the Flames for the series so far: the first one is Game 1, the second one is Game 2.
The Flames’ strategy so far has been to try to get around the defensive box-out by playing some dump-and-chase, a strategy that’s worked for them in similar situations in the regular season. So far, the results are mixed. It’s probably the correct strategy, but they need to be better at it.

Jacob Markstrom has everything he can (except score)

Through two games, Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom has allowed one goal. It was a deflection off a turnover by Noah Hanifin. That’s one goal in 120 minutes. That’s great. He’s doing great. He’s made some timely saves. No notes.
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Well, unless Markstrom decides he wants to join the rush and help score goals, too.

The Flames need to avoid the penalty box

In Game 1, the best period the Flames played (the first) saw them dominate possession and play almost entirely at five-on-five. In Game 2, the best period the Flames played (the third) saw them dominate possession and play almost entirely at five-on-five.
The Flames didn’t exactly goon it up in Game 2, but post-whistle shenanigans often led to a pair of players getting pulled off the ice and four-on-four play following. The Flames aren’t nearly as good at four-on-four as they are at five-on-five, and the constant whistles and removal of players disrupts the flow of their game.
That’s not to say that the Flames need to let Dallas push them around, but the Flames need to be smarter with how and when they’re engaging with them if they want to use their biggest strengths – their depth and pace – to grind Dallas down.
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Another fantastic home crowd

It was another home sell-out for the Flames, and another loud, enthusiastic audience for the home team. Aside from doing the wave in the third period with the Flames trailing, the crowd was excellent all evening.
The Flames are back at home on Wednesday for Game 5 in front of what’s sure to be another 19,289 fans wearing red. As it should be.

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