Flames’ Dube uses skills and sandpaper to become the Calgary difference maker

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EDMONTON – This was the type of highlighting move Dillon Dube had seen take place at Rogers Place several times before.

The man who runs it is usually Connor McDavid, the world’s fastest skater.

Still, there was Dube, in his fifth NHL playoff game alone, picking up speed in the neutral zone with a sudden urge to try and get around Dallas defenseman Andrej Sekera.

It worked, suddenly prompting the 22-year-old Flames winger to cut towards the net and alone on Anton Khudobin, whom he deftly danced before dropping it into an empty net.

It came seven minutes after opening the scoring with a world-class stopwatch, allowing the youngster from Cochrane, Alta., To throw a second straight party.

One game after his first NHL playoff goal knocked out the Winnipeg Jets, his double-place was instrumental in a 3-2 win over the Stars, which also required a lot of his defensive moxie to solidify the result.

“I arrived with some speed and at that point I just wanted to challenge him,” Dube said of the astute network researcher. “If the worst came to the worst, we’d be fighting right around the corner. Fortunately I stepped on him and was able to carry him to the net.

And take it to the Stars, who saw Dube open the night with a monster kick, before shutting it down as one of the many defensive pillars of a team incredibly dedicated to the defensive cause.

“He’s got a great speed, but what I liked about him was that there was no fear of him cutting at the net,” coach Geoff Ward said of the goal. gave Calgary a 2-0 lead at the end of the opening period.

“He just cut right in there as soon as he saw his stitching and it was made up for us throughout the playoffs and (Tuesday) he had some great moments for us. He could have pulled off a hat trick in the first period, he had that breakaway he missed. He does a lot of things with his speed, but we really liked that he has sandpaper with his skill level. He’s not afraid to go to difficult areas to play.

That’s huge praise for the five-foot-11, 185-pounder who started the first 13 games of the season in minors with instructions to work more on his game along the wall.

Now he’s towering over them, with some help from co-stars Milan Lucic and Sam Bennett, who made up the Flames’ best line for the second game in a row.

It’s a development few could have predicted, especially after Dube missed the first four days of training camp 2.0 and some believed he was behind the ball.

Non.

“He showed up to training camp in great shape – it was almost like his game was on another level when he came to camp, and he just wore it to games,” Ward said. , adding that speed isn’t the only thing he’s been building recently.

“I think with every game he plays he gains more and more confidence, which allows him to play freely and to familiarize himself with his skills. So now we see him doing some really, really key pieces. Maybe for some people who haven’t watched us much he stands out as a surprise, but for his teammates and coaches we’ve seen this building for a while now and he’s an important part of our roster.

Due to his captain’s title and his success for Canada at the world junior championships, many believed Dube could make a difference for the Flames in due course.

That’s ahead of the schedule, against the Dallas squad that gave Calgary the second-round pick they used to draft Dube 56th overall in 2016, in exchange for waiting UFA Kris Russell.

Dube’s goals were wiped out mid-afternoon when the Stars were the recipients of two fortuitous nine-second rebounds that sealed the deal.

It was Rasmus Andersson’s rooftop job of Sekera’s stick tip that broke the deadlock with four minutes to go in the second half, setting the stage for the Flames to look to maintain the kind of playoff lead. playoffs that was their ultimate loss a year earlier against Colorado.

“Just play it simple – when there’s no play out there we get pucks and pucks out, and are on the front deck,” TJ Brodie explained of their new second-half success. , based largely on a defense first mantra.

“That’s the biggest difference – last year we tried to play when they weren’t there and we got into the rush game, and when you get into that you never know what is going to happen. It feels good. You can feel the chemistry in the room and the confidence between the guys knowing that the guys are going to do their job and play the right game. And if they don’t, there will be guys to back it up. It’s really different from previous years.

Untested after a relatively meaningless round robin, the Stars were physically dominated and on their heels early on, prompting Corey Perry to try and change momentum by battling his former London Knights colleague Matthew Tkachuk.

To anyone’s surprise.

Tkachuk got the upper hand over the 35-year-old veteran, pushing him across the ice, drawing some exciting batting and love off the bench.

The momentum continued, making three straight wins for a Flames team that appeared to flip a switch in the second period of Game 3 against Winnipeg, playing with a confidence and completeness that was not demonstrated by the squad. all season.

“Especially in the first half, I thought we did a good job establishing our physicality, similar to what we did in the last series against Winnipeg,” said Noah Hanifin.

“It’s an important asset for our team and it’s important to get there in every game.”

Although he let in the first soft goal of those playoffs, Cam Talbot rebounded well, stopping 24 shots, including a game saver on Joe Pavelski’s stick with nine seconds left, while the Flames killed off at the last minute. penalty to Mark Giordano for knocking the puck over the glass.

“I think the most important thing for us is that we have gained confidence tonight,” said Ward, whose team will play the first four games of the series in five and a half days.

“I think we’ve learned some things as a team that we can definitely apply throughout the series. So for us it was a good first game. (Andersson and Dube) both have a lot of confidence in their games right now. They play quite freely there. I don’t think the size of the stage intimidates them at all – they really can’t wait to be there. Because they gain confidence and experience game by game, they feed off of it and use it to motivate themselves in the right way.

“We’re seeing right now, they’re creating awfully big moments for us in hockey games.

The second match will take place Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. (Paris time)



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