Dallas Stars First Round Playoff Reactions: Game Seven

CALGARY, AB - MAY 15: The Dallas Stars stand dejected after losing to the Calgary Flames during the overtime period of Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on May 15, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames defeated the Stars 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Despite Jake Oetinger’s awe-inspiring Game 7, the Calgary Flames have eliminated the Dallas Stars from the 2022 playoffs. The score was close; all because Oettinger decided to turn into a brick wall for nearly 80 minutes. The lack of possession and inability to score was the Stars’ downfall. The times they did score were electric. Jamie Benn set the tone of the first period by scoring 40 seconds into the game. Vladislav Namestnikov’s goal in the second period untied the game only 30 seconds after the Flames had scored. The one-goal lead would not stand, but the Stars still took the game into overtime. Johnny Gaudreau would score the game-winner with his fifth shot against Oettinger. Here are the reactions to Game 7.

Untimely Injuries

Due to injuries, Roope Hintz and Luke Glendening did not play in Game 7. Glendening was recovering from a nasty hit delivered by Nikita Zadorov in Game 6. Zadorov caught Glendening up high and slumped to the ground before play was stopped. No penalty was called on the play and Zadorov met with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety before Sunday’s game. Hintz was a bigger shock, as he was scratched just before Game 7 started. Rick Bowness said he injured a core muscle and didn’t respond well to treatments.

“We thought he was going to play. He has an oblique injury, he just had a reaction to the treatment,” Bowness said after Game 7. “We had to pull him.”

Radek Faska, who won 12 faceoffs in Game 6, left Sunday’s game in the late first period. He went five for six on faceoff attempts in Game 7 and started just over 11 minutes on the ice. The loss of all three players had a huge effect on the Stars’ ability to score and contain the puck. Namesnikov, Michael Raffl, and Joel Kiviranta all saw dramatic rises in ice time between Games 6 and 7.

Jake Oettinger

The standout performer for the Stars has to be Oettinger. He made 64 saves with multiple breakaway stops against Johnny Gaudreau. Oettinger had been great all series, but Sunday night was his masterpiece. Better yet, he is only 23 and has a possibility of getting even better.

“I’ve never been more motivated than I am right now,” Oettinger said. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that I get this opportunity again, and I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of it the next time.”

Oettinger was absolutely breathtaking in net. When the Flames jolted into the zone, as they often did in Game 7, Oettinger stayed cool and collected after every save and rebound. His patience and smart play kept Dallas in the series and nearly won them Game 7.

Oettinger offers a lot of hope for a Stars team that doesn’t have a defined future. Dallas’ cap situation is muddied by John Klingberg being an unrestricted free agent and singing Oettinger, who has restricted free agent eligibility. Dallas will also need some salary cap acrobatics to get money owed to Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin off the books. It might be a mini rebuild for the Stars franchise this coming year.

Lack of Depth Scoring

General manager Jim Nill failed to address the depth situation, a problem all season. Too much trust was pushed towards Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin being injury-free, and both players missed significant time the previous season due to injuries. Expecting both players to be useful on the second line as they still healed from their injuries was not a good bet.

Stars management put a lot of faith in Joel Kiviranta and Denis Gurianov as well. Both players broke out during the 2020 Stanley Cup Final run but failed to improve with increased ice time in 2020-21. Gurianov and Kiviranta couldn’t be consistent this past year either, which may mean their time in the lineup may be over.

Dallas needs major additions to the bottom three lines for this team to be a serious cup contender. Sorely missed are Corey Perry, Blake Comeau, and Andrew Cogliano. Though the Stars had bright spots in Glendening and Micheal Raffl, they could get the same grit and scoring production from the current roster.

Fixing the depth is scary because it will be a tough feat for any GM. Nill will need to sign Oettinger, Klingberg, and Jason Robertson with not much money at his disposal. Not to mention Radulov, Gurianov, Raffl, and Namestnikov will need new contracts as well. A scary offseason may be ahead for the Stars.

The Verdict

Game 7 went into overtime, and the heavily favored team won. Dallas can take victories in shutting down one of the best offenses during a seven-game playoff series but deserves some criticism for holes in their game. The Stars lived and died by Jake Oettinger getting pelted game after game, and the first line needed to score to turn the tide.

The struggles in Game 7 were the same problems the Stars faced all season, and indecision about the team’s state caused no problem to be fixed. Dallas has a long offseason in front of them with star players and depth, both needing contracts. Not to mention the same holes from the previous season need to be filled.

Ultimately, making the playoffs at all makes this season successful. Taking a better team to a seventh game shows how the team can get on the same page when their back is against the wall. Dallas was one goal away from beating the Flames, and the resilience was honorable. Now, new challenges face the Stars in the offseason.

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