Dallas – Mikael Backlund has been in this position before, as have most of his teammates.
Heck, so do most Calgary Flames fans, as the team has lost Game 2 an incredible 12 times in a row dating back to 2004.
Whether you describe Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars as a setback, ordeal, or just a playoff, the focus now, in a room full of battle-ravaged fire, is learning from the past by taking everything in stride.
“Yeah, I felt in the past, 2018-19, we got really high in the first game and got really low in the second, and we were never able to recover from that loss at home to Colorado,” Backlund said of the misfortune. The five-game faceplant game was as educational and stimulating as it was painful.
“It feels different now when you go to Dallas. You learn from your past mistakes. For me personally, yes, that’s the way I go in life. I’m really excited about (Saturday). Feeling better than it was a few years ago.”
[brightcove videoID=6305689502112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
Certainly, it was difficult to score against a club with a long history of stinginess.
But Daryl Sutter’s healthy defensive structure made it equally difficult for the stars to score, in a 1-1 streak with just three goals.
The only thing that’s more difficult to watch than Stars is trying to hack the Rick Bowness team he built around goalkeeper Jake Oettinger.
Hacking that would be the key.
However, now that Dallas has stolen the ice advantage at home, what matters most is the reaction of the Flames group who were boosted last summer with a Stanley Cup winning experience just for this moment.
The mantra of past winners like Blake Coleman, Trevor Lewis, Tyler Toffoli and Milan Lucic is simple – keep going.
Backlund said, before jumping on the Dallas charter where Game 3 will take place on Saturday.
“A lot of guys have played a lot of qualifiers and have had some tight series, so they know what it’s like. For those of us who have been here for so many years, we’ve learned from the past. We know you just have to come back for the next game and keep that energy and keep that confidence. We are the best team and we want to go out and show that.”
As much as the Pacific Division champions had entered the series, they were certain they wouldn’t win 16 in a row.
“Yeah, that’s very true – I don’t think that’s ever happened in the NHL,” Backlund smiled, one of the flames’ top favorites in Thursday’s loss, which saw the stars decline physically, leading to more turnovers.
“It’s a very tight league. You look at all the other series. Everyone is pretty restricted, except for two. It’s a tight league. We weren’t expecting to win 16 in a row. We still hope to win those 16, but we have to take it one day.” Day after day, shift after shift.”
[brightcove videoID=6305691013112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
The key to moving forward will be to tap into the limited opportunities that Calgary can generate through the chaos of the Star Zone.
“You’re not going to get a full set (of scoring opportunities) – we get the same amount we get in the regular season and we give up fewer,” Sutter noted.
“You have to have a real shooting mentality. You can’t get discouraged. That’s what they said after the first game, ‘You can’t try to go through four guys.'” You better play more than just a live game. This is a hockey match, for people who haven’t watched it. straight away a while ago.”
Whispers of a Calgary top streak once again disappearing is premature as the trio pressed well against a group of experienced checkers who blocked lanes, blocked shots, missed and pressed hard.
When pressed, Oettinger was ready.
Flames simply haven’t finished – yet – in the kind of tight-knit series they’d prefer to play.
It makes sense to believe that with Sutter at the helm, the Flames will find ways to adapt better than they did against Dallas two years ago in the playoff bubble.
“There will be ups and downs during the playoff series,” said Andrew Mangyapan, whose club has the second-best road record in the league this season.
“It will never be easy to beat a four-game team. We didn’t think it would be easy to get into it, so we have to go out and keep playing our game.
“We’ve been good on the road. We’re a good team. Have a group dinner tonight and start feeling good about ourselves, get team bonding and everything back up and go out there and play our game. I still don’t think we did that after this whole 60 streak. .
“And I think it’s time for us to show them how we play.”