Post-Game: An Avalanche of bounces


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(Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today Sports)

With the holiday break behind them, the Calgary Flames seemingly got a gift from the schedule makers in the form of a date with the Colorado Avalanche. The Flames were a bit late to show up to this one, but they managed to create offense by hook or crook and came away with a much closer than it needed to be 6-3 victory in Denver.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period looked like a game between two teams that had three days off; lots of icings, off-sides and missed passes for both clubs. The Sportsnet crew repeatedly reminded the viewing public that the Flames flew into Denver this morning, but Colorado looked just as jet-lagged.

Calvin Pickard was the best player for Colorado in the first, but the Avs managed to open the scoring late in the period. Gabriel Landeskog sniped a really nice shot that beat Elliott high glove side off the rush; the defenders swarmed Nathan MacKinnon as he skated into the Flames zone, giving Landeskog a little bit of breathing room. Shots were 9-5 Calgary.

The Flames were better and much more crisp in the second period – actually connecting on passes – but Colorado were the victims of plenty of rough bounces. 93 seconds into the period, the Flames drew even in a familiar way: the 3M Line scored. Mikael Backlund skated in and attempted to feed a pass to Matthew Tkachuk in the slot. It bounced off of Fedor Tyutin’s leg and beat Pickard.

Midway through the period, after a power play that had good puck movement and many chances (but zero goals), Sam Bennett deflected a Deryk Engelland point shot…that also bounced off Francois Beauchemin and past Pickard to make it 2-1.

The 3-1 goal, credited to Johnny Gaudreau, was utter chaos:

Future first ballot Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla made it 3-2 for the Flames off a nice one-timer from just inside the blueline. Between the velocity and some traffic in front, Elliott didn’t have much chance to react. However, the Flames made it 4-2 before the period’s end as Backlund got his second of the game after a penalty kill. Dougie Hamilton fed the puck to Backlund, and the puck careened off Pickard and Beauchemin (again) and into the net. Shots were 15-11 Calgary.

The Flames extended their lead midway through the third off a really nice sequence involving Kris Versteeg and Gaudreau; Versteeg made a nice drop pass and Gaudreau scored to make it 5-2.

Landeskog scored another off a nice individual stick-handling effort, but Versteeg added another to make it 6-2 and close things out. Shots were 10-7 Colorado in the final frame.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Colorado’s just not very good. They were decent in spurts, but they really lacked consistency.

For their part, the Flames were both good and lucky. They got bounces, but they out-played the Avalanche for the majority of the game. The Avalanche really had no answer for the 3M Line or the Gaudreau line once the second period began.

You gotta feel a bit bad for Pickard; he was really sharp for the majority of the game yet still got tagged with six goals against.

THE TURNING POINT

Gaudreau’s first goal, a product of a series of miscues, bounces and some wonderful puck luck for the Flames, put the road side up by a pair. Colorado was completely back on their heels and never fully recovered.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Backlund. He had two goals, including the eventual game-winner, an assist, and he came up huge on a late second period five-on-three kill.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Chiasson 84.2 100 1.025
Gaudreau 76.0 57.1 3.150
Giordano 75.0 57.1 1.625
Bennett 75.0 80.0 1.550
Hamilton 73.2 57.1 2.525
Versteeg 65.2 75.0 2.015
Monahan 64.1 37.5 0.750
Frolik 60.9 50.0 0.925
Tkachuk 58.8 50.0 1.075
Wideman 56.7 62.5 2.050
Ferland 56.0 80.0 0.150
Backlund 54.6 50.0 2.630
Jokipakka 52.6 50.0 -0.200
Stajan 50.0 60.0 0.605
Brodie 48.2 55.6 1.300
Engelland 47.1 40.0 0.675
Bouma 47.1 33.3 -0.275
Hathaway 43.8 42.9 -0.290
Elliott 0.250

THIS AND THAT

Backlund left the game early in the third period. He blocked a shot during a five-on-three penalty kill late in the second period, even clearing the zone while in some immense pain. He came out for the third, but never took a shift in the period.

UP NEXT

The Flames (19-16-2) head home tonight. They practice tomorrow afternoon and return to game action with a big Pacific Division battle with the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night at the Saddledome.

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  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Its the Avalanche. I know I know. But still. The Flames set the pace and had their way for most of the nite. Despite the lucky bounces and the shots on net, this could have turned into a runaway horse.

    Its hard to understand why the ‘Lanche are this bad with the talent they have.

    2 points is 2 points. Let’s hope we lay a similar beat down on the Ducks.

    GFG

  • JoelOttosJock

    For all those who want to see Iginla in a Flames jersey again..that game should be proof enough he can’t hack it. Besides being a cancer his skating is horrible. Still has a rocket for a shot though.

    • TheoForever

      I don’t want to see him back.
      But are you calling him a ‘cancer’? Kind of lost for words that wouldn’t have me banned, if you get my drift.

      Iggy was a great player for the Flames.

  • RKD

    Lucky bounces or not the Flames found a way to win, I never had a feeling that Colorado was going to win this game. Backlund had a monster of a game. That was their 11th road win which is the most in the Western Conference and tied for tops in the NHL.

  • OKG

    For all those who want to see Iginla in a Flames jersey again..that game should be proof enough he can totally still hack it and is better at ice hockey than Troy Brouwer who we don’t remotely miss. Besides being a career superstar, his skating is just as good as Monahan, Brouwer, and Tkachuk. Still has a rocket for a shot.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      I Agree OKG… And, Iginla on the RW-ing with Comeau+Mitchell is not the Same as if he were to RW with Ferland+Monahan, Even if they all played only 3rd line Minuets (doubtful) more like equal minuets for all top 3 lines give or take. If Iggy can accept 3rd line duties in Colorado? Why not in Calgary? Not as crazy as it seems. Cheers!

    • Guest

      I upvoted this based on the Brouwer comment. Woof that contract has been bad so far. Frolik was such a good signing and Brouwer, while fine, is a 3/4 line winger – almost opposites. Like Bouma and Bollig, the Brouwer contract feels like a Burke influenced deal.

      Love Iggy but Monahan and Tkachuk are already better players – Father Time always wins. He might be better or equal to Brouwer though.

    • Craftmatic4.0

      We will never stop admiring the greatest player to ever wear a Flames jersey!!! P.S. I fully expect him back at the deadline! So, …. Pound Sand!!!!

      • Rockmorton65

        I’d lose a lot of respect for BT if he made that move. Unless it was like, Brouwer for Iggy and a first or something insane like that. Bringing back Iggy as a “hockey move” would be stupid.

        The next time I want see him in a Flames jersey, it’s after he’s signed a one day contract to retire as a Flame.

  • cgyokgn

    So Calgary has now scored 100 goals, tied for 8th in the league. Yes, they’ve played more games than many teams (and have given up 106 goals) but it’s a good sign. Their PK was excellent tonight (although they took too many penalties and it could have cost them against a better team) and they continued their hot streak with another PP goal. They should have won this game and they did. Hope Backlund is okay.

    I’m curious as to who is going to start in goal against Anaheim… I’m not feeling super confident about either goalie.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Loved Iggy as much as any Flames Fan. But you can’t go back home once you leave. Would be happy if he gets a job in their front office but let’s not try to turn back the hands of time with his time in the game.

    I don’t want to be that team that trots out its previous players of glory years in the hopes to recapture its former stature.

    Its so sad. @ #Oilers. #Maple Leafs.

  • Greg

    3 straight wins. I know it’s against the three worst teams, but they had to make this soft spot in the schedule go well, and it’s off to the right start.

    • jakethesnail

      ‘Bout time we had a soft spot in the schedule! It seems that up to now there was always a hard spot.

      The NHL brass, governors and all just want to collect the big bucks no matter what it does to the quality of hockey being played. Any reason for compressing the schedule so every team is not playing their best a lot of nights eg. 6 games in 9 days on the road to boot. Hold a tournament at the beginning of the season to collect more big bucks…

      The NHL has a rule that the players can’t practise or even fly for 3 days and then schedule games on the first day after the 3 day break, one of the teams has to travel game day.

      Just my venting!

  • Toofun

    Sorry, I still can’t forgive Iginla for the way he left Calgary. He was our franchise player, leader and face of the team and then he sold us out at the trade deadline. Terrible decision that ended up being a lose / lose for both him and the Flames. He had a chance to leave with class, dignity and all of our best wishes but chose what I thought was an entirely selfish and unnecessary path instead.

    All the best Jerome – just not back here with us.

    Cheers…