Friends, we’re a week into the Stanley Cup playoffs! The Calgary Flames have played three games and they’ve been… fairly adequate, losing two close games and grinding out a win in the other. It’s not surprising that the majority of the mailbag questions we received this week were playoff-related.
Let’s dive in!
I’ll say this for John Klingberg, he seems completely fine being the villain here. It’s a weird role for a 29-year-old Swede to be taking on, especially considering in his regular season career he has 213 penalty minutes in 552 games. That’s 0.386 penalty minutes per game, or a minor roughly every five games. He’s racked up 26 penalty minutes in three games, which is obviously much, much more than he usually gets.
Given Klingberg credit, though. He’s taken Tkachuk out of the games and out of his game so far in this series.
If Johnny Gaudreau heads into the off-season as a conquering hero with a strong resume as a regular season and post-season performer, teams will throw gobs of money at him. If he heads into the off-season with only a resume of strong regular season play, fewer teams will throw gobs of money at him… and probably smaller gobs of money. Gaudreau is a superb player who is going to get paid well this summer, but no doubt that a short post-season run significantly lowers the number of interested suitors and his overall price tag.
On the lines question, I kind of get why Darryl Sutter has the four lines the way they are. The best two-way players on the team are probably Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane, Calle Jarnkrok, Blake Coleman and Trevor Lewis. The current lines put Lindholm with the two best offensive producers (Gaudreau and Tkachuk), Backlund and Mangiapane with Tyler Toffoli (arguably the third-best pure scorer), Jarnkrok and Coleman with Dillon Dube, and Lewis with two good checkers in Milan Lucic and Brett Ritchie. In terms of balancing offence and two-way players, the current lines make sense.
But Toffoli’s not scoring, and I’m not sure if swapping him and Coleman wouldn’t be the best move. The Flames need goals, many goals, and I don’t think the third line gets that much worse with Toffoli on it. I get the logic behind the lines, but I think a swap could be smart for the Flames.
In terms of the Joe Pavelski of it all: yeah, the Flames need to do better with screens, tips, deflections and rebounds. In other words: they need to try to channel their inner Pavelskis.
Doomed may be pushing it, given all three games were super-close. But I’m sure everybody’s blood pressure and overall anxiety levels would be better if the Flames were leading the series rather than trailing.
But ask me again after Game 4 and we’ll see how everybody’s feeling then.
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