Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames play in boring first-round series


Could anyone send a puck near the goal

picture: Getty (Getty Images)

The NHL playoffs haven’t had the greatest drama so far. There were only two overtime games in the eight series combined and not too many more that were as close or iffy in the closing minutes of the third period. Some results were blown up by multiple empty goals, but what there were were goals. Many of them. And opportunities too.

And before we go any further, we should say that we all owe Dallas a debt Stars owes a debt of gratitude for the fact that a team so understaffed made the playoffs before Las Vegas Golden Knights is truly a gift of hilarity that we should never lose our appreciation for. The Stars had a negative goal difference during the season. They’re not good, and yet they kept the league’s most expensive team at home for the spring. There are good things in this world folks.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s one thing:

Total goals in each playoff series

  • Panther Capitals: 19
  • Leaves Flash: 20
  • Hurricanes Bruins: 19
  • Rangers Penguins: 25
  • Avalanche Predators: 22
  • Wild Blues: 18
  • Oilers Kings: 23

The Calgary flames and stars? You did nine.

It’s not because of the goalkeeper either, at least not just because of the goalkeeper. Only in Game 3 last night did each team crack 30 shots or over 50 attempts at the net in each of the three previous games with equal strength. And you can be sure Stars coach Rick Bowness was sick of it coming to this, although he was happy the Stars won in a game where they were easily outplayed.

It’s hard to get too excited about what Dallas is trying to do because they are hopelessly outnumbered by the Flames. In Calgary, there are four over-35 goalscorers and three over-40 goalscorers. The stars have two and one of each, respectively. The Flames have two to three lines they can likely count on to score and create chances, while the Stars rely on Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski being able to close his loose bones collection of the net to tip something home or hit a rebound (which he somehow still manages to do effectively).

So the Flames are going to see a lot of trap hockey and a lot of dump-ins, and they’ll have to work their way through the slog to equalize and then win that series. It might help if Matthew Tkachuk was more concerned with putting shots on the net and scoring than fighting John Klingberg, for reasons only he knows. God knows his father could use the cardio from celebrating his son’s goal.

And while we can’t blame Dallas for their approach, we can worry about what will result if they win the series, and the same goes for the Caps and Panthers, another series where a top-flight team went 2-1 lagging behind a team tries to gum up the works. The Caps have more star power than the Stars, but they’re not trying to run with the Panthers either.

The Flames and Cats eating it in the first round would only make more GMs in the league get gun-shy when it comes to building higher-octane offenses to win, and at the much easier exit ramp of the building up “heavy” teams. It’s always easier to find players who can block shots and play along the boards than to find a third-line player who’s quick and can give you 15-20 goals. Pat Maroons are everywhere. There aren’t that many Blake Colemans.

But the stars are still here. That means we need to see more games where nothing happens, the neutral zone looks like it’s filled with Lego, and breaks full of analysts glamorizing blocked shots and hits 80ft from play as some kind of turning point (everyone blocks now shots. This isn’t the 80’s when gear meant every blocked shot meant flirting with death).

Let’s just hope they politely step aside soon.

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