Dallas Stars First Round Playoff Reactions: Game Four

DALLAS, TEXAS - MAY 09: Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars takes a shot on Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Calgary Flames in the third period in Game Four of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 09, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars took their foot off the gas in Game Four, losing 4-1 to the Calgary Flames. Coach Rick Bowness mixed the lines yet again, but the Stars still struggled to create offense. Jake Oettinger stood on his head all game, allowing four goals on 54 shots. Calgary scored twice on the powerplay in another feisty game. Here are the reactions from Game Four

The Good

The Stars’ defense has been fantastic through all four games. Prominent players in John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, and Esa Lindell have played better in this series than during the regular season. Dallas has blocked a ton of shots in the series, and it’s making the difference. Comparing Game Three to Game Four, one difference has been the lack of shots that got to Oettinger. That changed in Game Four, but the defense wasn’t the worst part of how the Stars played. The main thing that sticks out is the effort while down goals. Dallas’ D-men stayed consistent throughout the game while overworked. The Stars’ offense couldn’t generate much after the first period, causing Oettinger and the defense to be tested constantly.

Speaking of being overworked, Oettinger was pelted with shots throughout the game. Going into the third period, Oettinger had stopped 29 of 30 shots, and the Stars only trailed 1-0. While that inevitably fell apart in the final period, Oettinger kept Dallas competitive. He continues to prove himself as Dallas’ most valuable asset in the series. Calgary could be up 3-1 in the series without the Oettinger-led Shutout in Game Two.

The Bad

Bowness experimented with more line changes as Joel Kiviranta moved up onto the second line. The powerplay saw additions on its second unit, with Vladislav Namestnikov seeing time on the man advantage. With players like Kiviranta and Denis Gurianov, it’s a strange move for Bowness to choose Namestnikov over guys the organization considers scorers.

There will be no happy medium to production on offense. If Roope Hintz rotates off the top line, he seemingly disappears among the rest of the team. It’s a tough call for Bowness that harkens back to the lack of moves at the deadline. Namestnikov was the only forward the Stars acquired, and they are stuck with inconsistent production as a result.

The Stars made a late-ditch effort to tie the game in the back half of the third period. Tyler Seguin scored his first goal of the playoffs while on the powerplay with just under five minutes to go. Dallas went into attack mode as they quickly got deep into the Calgary zone. Then, Micheal Raffl took a hooking penalty, killing any chance at a Stars’ comeback.

“As badly as we played, there was times that we had a chance to give us some momentum, and we didn’t, we didn’t capitalize,” Bowness said.

Dallas didn’t necessarily roll over after that. The Stars had a few shots while shorthanded, but Jacob Markstrom snuffed out those attempts. After the penalty expired, Dallas had trouble getting the puck in deep, causing Oettinger to stay on the ice. The Stars still couldn’t generate much offense with the goalie pulled, and Mikael Backlund struck the empty net to ice the game.

Tips for Game Five

The Stars need a new strategy for the offense. The line mixing has affected scoring chances on the starting lines and on the powerplay units. Bowness didn’t mix his lineups as often in the regular season, and the didn’t couldn’t add a significant mid-line scoring at the trade deadline. Bowness will likely continue to shuffle players around until he reaches a happy medium.

Even if the offense isn’t scoring, they need to have some puck control to keep Oettinger and the defense fresh. Oettinger is good, and it’s okay to lean on him, but not to the extent of Game Four. Getting outshot 54 to 35 is not a winning move.

Penalties have been a theme through the first half of the series, and while there were significantly fewer penalties taken than in previous games, Calgary opened the scoring on the powerplay. The Stars can keep up with the Flames if they can keep it to 5-on-5 hockey. Every time they take a penalty, they risk blowing the dam open and giving an advantage to the Flames. They need to stay out of the box as much as they can.

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