Donna Spencer, Canadian Press
Calgary – The Calgary flame was in a similar situation not too long ago.
They entered the NHL playoffs with a higher rating and an excellent season, but the 2019 failure is a lesson learned for 2022.
“Looking at the 2018-2019 season, we had players who weren’t playing and who were resting in the playoffs,” said Johnny Goudreau. We were first in the Western Conference and we took our feet off the throttle. We can’t do that this year. Several players were part of this team and we learned from the situation.
The Flames (50-21-11) opened their first inning against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at Saddledome Stadium.
The second duel will take place Thursday evening when the series is teleported to Dallas, at the American Airlines Center.
The Stars beat the Flames in six games in the first round of the 2020 qualifiers, in the protected environment of Edmonton. Dallas eventually lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Stars finished first among the recruiting teams in the West by defeating the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the season.
The Flames have collected more points this season (111) than they did in 2019 (107), when they finished first in the West. The Alberta secured a place in the playoffs two weeks before the end of the game, and finished first in the Pacific Division with four games remaining.
Led by Nathan McKinnon, Avalanche defeated The Flames in five matches in the first round of the 2019 qualifiers.
Nearly a dozen players on Flames’ current squad remember this failure, including 40-goal goalscorers Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm.
This memory makes them better equipped this time around to maintain their shape in the inter-season, according to their coach, Daryl Sutter.
“One of the biggest reasons, probably, is that they have been outdone. Sutter insisted they are good players to be proud of. You can explain to the players whatever you want, but they have to live it. Then you will learn a lot about the player.”
The differences from the 2019 squad are that the current edition is led by a head coach who has won the Stanley Cup twice since leaving Calgary in 2010, recent additions know what it looks like away in the playoffs and goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom is able to take the long workload in the playoffs.
Blake Coleman joined the Flames last summer after winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Trevor Lewis, who also signed to a contract last summer, lifted the Stanley Cup twice (2012, 2014) when he and Satter were part of the Los Angeles Kings.
Tyler Toffoli, also a member of the Kings in 2014, was acquired in February after appearing in the Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens last year.
“I think the key to all of this is the experience of being successful. It’s not just experience,” said Sutter. “The two players with the most recent memories, Blake Coleman and Tyler Toffoli, are very important players. Trevor has won in the last 10 years. These three have made a huge impact in the changing room.”
But the stars have a very long experience as 14 players on the team reached the finals two years ago.
“They have a lot of players who have played several playoffs,” Lewis said. They know what they’re doing.”
32-year-old Markstrom has been the backbone of the team this season. Of all the goalkeepers who made the playoffs, Markstrom and Andrei Vasilevsky of the Lightning team are second in games played (63) behind Juuse Saros (67) of the Nashville Predators.
Injuries to Ben Bishop, Braden Holtby, and Anton Khadobin have caused Carousel to star in the network of stars. Jake Oettinger, 23, made the majority of starts and went 30-15-1.
The 2017 No. 1 star pick lacks experience in the supplement, having played just 36 minutes in 2020.