New faces, new line combinations in store for Stars in Game 5

First Round: Game 5 (series tied 2-2)

8:30 pm CT, Scotiabank Saddledome

TV: Bally Sports Southwest, ESPN

radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM

The Calgary Flames have been one of the best puck possession teams in the NHL all season, so it’s no surprise they continue that in the playoffs. In fact, the Flames are actually better now.

The Flames ranked fourth in shot differential during the regular season at plus-6.5 per game. They rank second in the playoffs at plus-11.2. Calgary is fifth in shot production per game at 37.5 (with no games in overtime), and that ranks fifth in the league. The Flames are tops in shot suppression at 26.3.

While Dallas has talked a lot about keeping shots and scoring chances down for the Flames, it hasn’t been easy. In a 4-1 loss Monday in Dallas, Calgary had 53 shots on goal and more than 40 scoring chances.

“It’s disappointing,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said.

The veteran bench boss said the team and coaching staff knows how to fix the problems, but they have to go out and do it.

“We were on the wrong side of them too many times in all three zones,” Bowness said. “We were very slow to close on them in the defensive zone which is why they were able to cycle the puck as much. It started with the first shift where our forward got caught on the wrong side and we didn’t close quick enough in our zone.”

defenseman Ryan Suter said the Flames won most of the puck battles, and that simply being more competitive shift to shift will go a long way in turning things around.

“They’re a good team,” Suter said. “They came at us hard from the first shift, they responded well and now it’s our turn. They played a great hockey game, and we were off a little bit, and when you’re off a little bit against a top-tier team like that, a big favorite in this league, they’re going to make you pay. They made us pay.”

defenseman John Klingberg said that by playing better in all zones, the Stars will be able to close that gap on puck possession.

“Probably end plays a little faster,” Klingberg said. “They’re a good team over there and we know they’re going to have the puck a lot, but if we can kill the plays faster and keep the puck a little more, we’re going to play with more possession and spend more time in the o-zone.”

Video: On Game 5 mindset: ‘We want to end plays faster’

The Stars are making some changes in the lineup, so there will be fresh energy. But Bowness said it’s huge for the veterans to step up and take charge.

“The responsibility is on the players,” Bowness said. “The players sitting on the bench can see what’s going on. We’re turning pucks over, so let’s get it going. If one line is turning it over, you’re telling the next line okay you guys have got to get it deep so we can change momentum. If the next line turns it over, the momentum stays on their side, so it’s the responsibility of the players to go on the ice, see what’s there and make the right decisions.”

what to watch

Bowness is making significant lineup changes, scratching both Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulovand shuffling all his lines.

Jacob Peterson22, will play his first Stanley Cup Playoff game, while Marian Studenic, 23, will get his second game. Both are younger players with good speed and have shown to be solid two-way players this season, so that’s the reason for the moves.

As for the juggling, Jason Robertson will be moved off the top line and will play beside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Ben – at least to start – while Michael Raffl will take Robertson’s spot on the top line with Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. Dallas has seven goals in four games so far, so it needs to find some spark.

“We’re hoping Seggy and Jamie bring Robo in and they get involved in the fight,” Bowness said. “We’ve got to get more guys involved in the fight. We need more.”

Raffl should do the same thing for the top line, Bowness said.

“He’s been playing great hockey for us, and he hangs onto the puck,” Bowness said. “He does a good job on the forecheck, he’s reliable defensively, and he hopefully will get Roope and Pavs the puck a little more.”

In addition, Peterson will play with Vladislav Namestnikov and Luke Glendeningwhile Studenic will play with Joel Kiviranta and Radek To Fax.

Bowness could change things around quickly, but he seems committed to the new lines.

“Is it worth the gamble at this time?” he said. “Yeah, to me it is.”

Video: On lineup changes for Game 5

lineup update

Jake Oettinger will make his fifth consecutive start of the series.

expected lines

Raffl-Hintz-Pavelski
Robertson-Benn-Seguin
Peterson-Namestnikov-Glendening
Kiviranta-Faksa-Studenic

Suter-Heiskanen
Lindell-Hakanpaa
Hanley-Klingberg

Oettinger
Wedgewood

Video: On improvements for Game 5

numbers
19.75

Dallas ranks third in the playoffs in blocked shots per 60 minutes at 19.75. Calgary ranks 13th at 12.5 blocks per game.

56 percent

Among top faceoff performers in the playoffs, Calgary’s Elias Lindholm ranks third in winning percentage at 56 percent.

11 percent

Both Calgary and Dallas are tied for 13th in power-play success at 11 percent. Each is 2-for-17 in the first four games.

he said it

“He was the only reason we were in the game. I told the coaches after the game that we just wasted a great goaltending performance. Their guy made some big saves, he didn’t get a lot of them, but he made some big saves at the right time. Otter was outstanding, and that’s why it was 1-0 going into the third. We had some looks to make it 1-1 and then they got the penalty shot. He’s a pro.” — Bowness on Oettinger’s performance in Game 4

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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