The NHL is set up with a solid night of action as two games are up on the board throughout August 20. One of these matchups on Thursday will be between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames. These two teams have met in an emotional series so far, and I expect we are in for an exciting conclusion. The puck will drop for this game at around 10:30 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Stars finished out this season with a record of 37-24-8, which had them in fourth place of the Western Conference. Dallas went 1-2 throughout their round robin games to earn the third seed in the West. The Stars dropped two of the first three games of this series, but have won back to back to earn an important 3-2 series lead. Now Dallas will look to finish off the Flames in Game 6.
Calgary finished out the regular season with a record of 36-27-7, which had them in eighth place of the Western Conference when the season restarted. The Flames met up with the Winnipeg Jets in the Qualifying round, where they knocked them out in a dominant four game series. Now Calgary looks to stay alive and force a Game 7 on Thursday.
These two teams have posted up solid performances throughout this series so far. I expect both teams to keep up the intensity as they move further into this series. With the Flames backs against the wall, I expect Calgary to come out strong in this one. The Stars will look to hold them off to move onto the next round for the second straight season.
These two teams met up in Game 1 of this series back on August 11. Dillon Dube scored twice to open up the scoring for the Flames. Jamie Benn helped tie it up in the second period, but it was not enough. Rasmus Andersson scored the game winner for Calgary. Cam Talbot stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced as the Flames won 3-2.
The second game of this series was back on August 13. The Flames battled back, scoring two goals in the third period to tie it up. It was not enough though as the Stars tied up the series. Miro Heiskanen scored two goals, while Corey Perry and Alexander Radulov both had a goal and an assist. Dallas was able to win 5-4 off a goal by Jamie Oleksiak with less than a minute left.
The third game of this series was the next day on August 14. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie scored the only goals for the Flames to help them regain the series lead. Cam Talbot finished with a 35 shot shutout to propel Calgary to a 2-0 win.
Game 4 of this series was on August 16. Sam Bennett had two goals and an assist, while Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist. Joe Pavelski finished off his hat trick though to tie it up with 11 seconds left. John Klingberg tallied up three assists, while Tyler Seguin had two assists. The Stars finished off the comeback with a 5-4 win in overtime.
The most recent matchup was Game 5 on August 18. Jamie Benn opened up the scoring for the Stars, but it was Mikael Backlund who tied it up shortly after. John Klingberg scored the eventual game winner a minute into the third period. Anton Khudobin stopped 28 of the 29 shots against him as Dallas was able to finish off with a 2-1 win.
The Stars had a solid special team unit throughout the regular season. Dallas earned a power play percentage of 21.1 percent. The Stars put up a penalty kill rate of 79.7 percent. In the playoffs, Dallas has posted a 14.3 percent power play rate, while killing off 77.8 percent of the penalties against them.
Calgary’s special teams were strong throughout the regular season. The Flames were able to capitalize on 21.2 percent of their power play chances. Calgary also killed off 82.1 percent of the penalties against them in the regular season. The Flames special teams have stepped up in this playoff series, posting a 28.1 percent power play rate and a 86.1 percent penalty kill.
The Flames special teams have been a huge reason why they have stayed in this series despite being outshot in every game this series. Calgary will look for their power play and penalty kill to remain dangerous in Game 6. The Stars gave the Flames a taste of their own medicine in Game 5, scoring a shorthanded goal. Now Calgary’s special teams will look to force a Game 7.
I expect Anton Khudobin to remain the starter for the Stars in Game 6. Khudobin earned a record of 16-8-4 throughout the regular season. Khudobin posted a .930 save percentage and a GAA of 2.22 throughout those starts. In the playoffs, he has put up a save percentage of .917 and a 2.41 GAA with a record of 3-3.
Cam Talbot will get the nod in net for Calgary in this matchup. Talbot finished out the regular season with a record of 12-10-1. In his games played, he earned a .919 save percentage and a 2.63 GAA. Talbot has stepped up in a big way throughout these playoffs. He has posted a save percentage of .934 and a GAA of 2.17 to help keep the Flames alive.
These two goalies have played well throughout the restart. Khudobin has done a great job stepping up in Ben Bishop’s absence, while Talbot has elevated his game to another level. The Flames will look to give him some help in Game 6. The Stars have been outshooting Calgary heavily in this series and I expect the Flames to try and switch that up in this one.
This series has gone back and forth the first five games and I do not expect this series to end in anything less than seven. The Stars have won back to back games to push Calgary to the edge, and I expect the Flames to push back. The Flames will look for their special team unit to lead them, while Talbot continues to put up strong numbers.
BetOnline has the Stars listed as a -124 against the money line in this one. This implies that Dallas will win this game around 55.4 percent of the time. The Stars have the series lead, but with how this series has gone, I think this line is too big. These two teams have been tight all series long and I expect it to finish that way. As big underdogs, I really like the Flames to push this series to seven games.