The Calgary Flames were pushed to the brink of elimination on Tuesday night by way of a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4. The Flames dug a 3-0 hole in the first period, climbed out of that hole, and then couldn’t manage to hold onto the tie.
Here are five takeaways from Game 4.
Goalie gaffes cancelled out
The highlight reels, and folks prone to giggling, will obviously be pointing at the goalie gaffes that book-ended this game. In the first period, Jacob Markstrom whiffed on a pass that ended up going right to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for an easy goal. Similarly, a blast from Rasmus Andersson from inside the Flames’ blueline ended up tying the game, with Mike Smith having the body language that all but screamed “Wait, what?” and after the game he admitted he completely lost the puck. Whoops.
But aside from the two whoopsie goals, one apiece, both Markstrom and Smith were very, very good in this game.
The real Flames showed up, for the most part
Game 1 was a track meet. Game 2 featured wild swings. Game 3 featured some really ugly breakdowns by the Flames. Game 4 might be the only game in this series where we could say that the Flames team we expected to see – the team we saw for most of the Dallas series – was front and centre. They weren’t without their faults – the second, third and fourth Oilers goals were the product of Flames breakdowns as much as they were products of the Oilers making good plays – but the Flames played their style of game for the first time in this series.
It wasn’t quite enough, but it gave them a fighting chance.
Little mistakes had big impacts
Here were the Flames four goals against in Game 4:
- The puck rolls on Markstrom on his attempted pass from behind the net, going right to Nugent-Hopkins for an easy one.
- Tyler Toffoli takes a silly penalty away from the puck. On the Oilers’ power play, the Flames give Leon Draisaitl way too much time to make a pass to Connor McDavid, and the rebound is buried by Zach Hyman (who had position on Chris Tanev).
- Calle Jarnkrok’s clearing attempt up the wall is intercepted. Evander Kane’s shot is tipped.
- The Flames lose a couple down-low puck battles on the dump-in, then Oliver Kylington can’t box out Nugent-Hopkins in front of the net for the rebound.
On their face, none of these were egregious, ugly mistakes (aside from Markstrom’s). But man, these little battles lost or momentary lapses really added up in a close game.
I don’t know how to feel about Chris Tanev
I’m of two minds about Tanev playing in Game 4.
On one hand, he’s a grown-ass adult and a warrior, who seems completely willing to play through the pain of really bad injuries. He’s a smart guy and has undoubtedly done this kind of thing before, and if he’s fully informed about the risks and plays anyway, that’s on him. (And, I suppose, the medical staff that okays the decision to play.)
But man, it looked like life sucked for Tanev in Game 4. His spirit was willing, but his body is obviously not at 100%. He’s probably an upgrade on Brett Ritchie right now – and the Flames going with 11 forwards and seven blueliners makes sense given how well it worked against Dallas – but I cringe to think about how much agony Tanev was in before, during and after the game.
The “real” Flames have shown up for one game of the four they’ve played against the Oilers so far. The Flames have won one of the four games in this series, which feels somewhat deserved given how they’ve played on the whole. They’ll need to play their best game of the season on Thursday night if they have any hope of prolonging their season for another couple days.
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