3 Keys: Flames vs. Stars, Game 1 of Western First Round

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No. 6 Flames vs. No. 3 Stars

5:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, FS-SW+

Ben Bishop could start for the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Bishop, who was unfit to play in two of three games in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, and forward Tyler Seguin, who was unfit to play against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, are healthy, according to coach Rick Bowness.

“Everyone is healthy,” Bowness said Monday. “Everyone got through practice. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Cam Talbot went 3-1 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .945 save percentage to help Calgary eliminate the Winnipeg Jets in four games in their best-of-5 qualifier series in Edmonton, the hub city for the West. He is expected to start Game 1.

Dallas went 1-2-0 in the round-robin.

Here are 3 keys to Game 1:

 

1. Strong Stars goaltending

The Flames, who defeated Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck in the Qualifiers, will be challenged regardless of which goaltender starts for the Stars. Bishop is a three-time finalist for the Vezina, awarded to the goalie voted best in the NHL, and his 2.50 GAA was 10th in the League this season (minimum 20 games). Should he not be ready to go, Dallas can turn to Anton Khudobin, who led the NHL with a .930 save percentage and was tied for third with Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes with a 2.22 GAA.

The Stars allowed 174 goals in the regular season, second fewest in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (167).

“We don’t know what goalie we’re going to have yet, but they’re both really, really solid goalies,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “Different types of goalies style-wise, but both really good, really effective.”

 

2. Igniting some offense

The Stars were outscored 10-5 in three games in the round-robin, and their top line of Jamie Benn, Seguin and Alexander Radulov combined for zero points and a minus-8 rating. They’ll need to be much more productive to put Dallas on the right track early.

“We’re fine with where we’re at,” Benn said. “I think [the media] makes a big deal of it, but we’re confident in the group we have and the game we play. Defense is going to win games in the playoffs. That’s what we’re going to keep focusing on.”

 

3. Special on special teams

Calgary’s special teams were dominant against Winnipeg. The power play was 5-for-17 (29.4 percent; third among the 24 teams in the Qualifiers), and the penalty kill allowed two goals in 17 attempts (88.2 percent; seventh). The Flames scored five power-play goals in three games against the Stars in the regular season. They’ll need it to continue to flourish in this series.

“They’re very good on the power play,” Bowness said. “They’ve got a lot of talent. We can do three things better: pressure their entries, protect seams, and making sure our goalie can see those outside shots.”

 

Flames projected lineup

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanElias Lindholm

Andrew MangiapaneMikael BacklundMatthew Tkachuk

Milan LucicSam BennettDillon Dube

Mark JankowskiDerek RyanTobias Rieder

Mark GiordanoTJ Brodie

Noah HanifinRasmus Andersson

Derek ForbortErik Gustafsson

Cam Talbot

David Rittich

Scratched: Austin Czarnik, Byron Froese, Alan Quine, Zac Rinaldo, Buddy Robinson, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Juuso Valimaki, Alexander Yelesin, Jon Gillies, Artyom Zagidulin

Unfit to play: None

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlexander Radulov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov

Roope HintzJason DickinsonCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRadek FaksaBlake Comeau

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen

Andrej SekeraStephen Johns

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Justin Dowling, Joel Kiviranta, Jason Robertson, Gavin Bayreuther, Taylor Fedun, Joel Hanley, Thomas Harley, Landon Bow, Jake Oettinger

Unfit to play: None

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