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Photo Credit: Rob Chenoy/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Things to do in Denver when you’re dreadful

The Calgary Flames were out-played by the Colorado Avalanche in Games 1 and 2 of their first round series, but they were fairly decent. The Flames were downright dreadful in Denver in a 6-2 loss to the Avalanche.

The Rundown

The Flames got themselves into a bit of trouble early in the third period, as on the same play they took a hooking penalty and a too-many-men minor. On the ensuing five-on-three, Nathan MacKinnon used both Gabriel Landeskog and a defending Mark Giordano as a screen and beat Mike Smith to make it 1-0 Avalanche.

The Avalanche hustled their way into another Flames penalty and took advantage on their next power play. Travis Hamonic lost his stick and Elias Lindholm lent him his, then hustled to the bench. As Lindholm went to grab another stick, Mikko Rantanen’s cross-zone pass found MacKinnon for a one-timer that went into the net just as Smith was moving laterally to make it a 2-0 lead for the Avalanche.

And before the end of the period, the Avalanche added another one with the Flames standing around in their own end. MacKinnon set up a pinching Cale Makar for a wrister that beat Smith to extend the home team’s lead to 3-0.

Shots were 21-8 Avalanche and scoring chances 11-5 Avalanche in the opening period.

The Flames got an opportunity to claw back into this one early in the second period, as Sven Andrighetto took a lazy penalty on an icing. But the Flames’ power play looked completely discombobulated and the Avalanche got a couple of breakaway rushes. On the second one, Ian Cole’s initial shot was stopped but Matt Nieto beat the Flames defender to the rebound and beat Smith to make it 4-0.

But just 43 seconds after Colorado scored, the Flames cashed in on their power play. Rasmus Andersson put a low slap-pass towards the front of the net and it deflected in off Sam Bennett’s skate (on a set play) and past Philipp Grubauer to make it a 4-1 game.

The visitors kept getting some traction, but a fairly casual rush into the Avalanche zone by the Johnny Gaudreau line led to a turnover and an odd-man rush. Rantanen snuck in as the trailer and buried a Colin Wilson feed from the high slot to give Colorado a 5-1 lead.

Shots were 19-12 Avalanche and scoring chances 12-8 Avalanche in the second period.

Erik Johnson scored early in the third period during a stretch of four-on-four on a tip-in to make it 6-1, but TJ Brodie deflected a Noah Hanifin shot 15 seconds later to make the score 6-2 Avalanche.

Why the Flames Lost

Well, the Flames weren’t any good.

The game-plan for the Avalanche was probably to weather the early storm and rely on their line matching (due to last change) to get some favourable conditions for MacKinnon’s line to get some scoring chances. The Flames made things easy for them by taking several early penalties and seemingly losing a step in their fore-check and back-check once they got down a goal or two.

Rather than a playoff-style battle, the Flames gave the Avalanche one of the easier playoff victories they’re ever going to get.

Red Warrior

Bennett was the only Flames skater with a plus rating, so he gets the nod by default. Smith was also good, but he also gave up six goals.

The Turning Point

Makar’s goal was a back-breaker. Already down a pair, the Flames needed to do whatever they could to gain momentum. Instead they stood around while a 20-year-old playing his first NHL game walked in on their goalie and extended the home team’s lead.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Gaudreau 59.5 60.0 0.575
Monahan 55.9 60.0 0.985
Fantenberg 53.6 45.5 0.025
Lindholm 51.5 62.5 -0.020
Giordano 50.0 28.6 0.275
Tkachuk 50.0 0.0 -0.225
Backlund 50.0 0.0 0.365
Brodie 50.0 45.5 1.050
Andersson 48.0 25.0 0.825
Hathaway 46.2 0.0 0.025
Neal 43.5 50.0 0.075
Frolik 42.9 0.0 -0.275
Hamonic 40.5 33.3 -0.100
Mangiapane 40.0 0.0 -0.200
Hanifin 39.5 28.6 0.075
Jankowski 37.5 42.9 -0.125
Bennett 35.3 42.9 0.565
Ryan 30.8 0.0 0.010
Smith 0.500
Rittich

This and That

The Athletic’s Ryan Clark summed up the game very succinctly.

Up Next

Game 4 of this Best-of-Seven series goes Wednesday night at 8 p.m. MT at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Vinnsanity0412

    By default?? Bennett was the best Flame on the ice by far, followed closely by Smith regardless of the 6. He stopped 50 shots!! High danger scoring chances were 18-7!!

      • SGRietzey

        Hate to tell you, but as a vocal critic of his all year, I would suggest Smith can hardly be faulted for the majority of the goals against. I’d count 2 against him, MAYBE 3 if I’m reaching, but even then, that’s ignoring whatever glaring defensive lapse or breakdown preceded it.

        Goal #1 – down 2 men, screened perfectly – didn’t see it until it was past him
        Goal #2 – still the PK, one timer from a wide-open MacKinnon. Not much chance.
        Goal #3 – I think this went five-hole, so I’ll give that – but there was also a total breakdown to allow Makar to get in deep in the first place.
        Goal #4 – big rebound, yes – but I wouldn’t call this on Smith. The fact that they gave up that rush shorthanded in the first place is bad enough, but he made the first save. Gio lost his stick on the play, Gaudreau isn’t back in the play until it’s over and the man who is back, Monahan, is coasting and fails at both picking up the rebound and covering Nieto, lazily reaching with his stick while his feet aren’t moving. Come on.
        Goal #5 – Pretty deep in his net, I’ll give that. But again – defensive lapse leading to an odd-man rush leading to a one-timer in the slot.
        Goal #6 – Where to even begin? The shot squeaked through, so that’s not a great look. But the play leading up to it:
        -Gio goes down to block the shot, taking himself out of the play
        -Lindholm busts his ass to get back in the zone but loses his man
        -Gaudreau gets back in the zone but doesn’t pressure Cole at the point or make any effort to block the pass
        -4th man (didn’t see who) is coasting in the neutral zone, essentially making it a 4-on-3.

        Yeah, it might have been nice to get a save or two on them, but the at some point the D is going to have to stop serving up prime scoring chances. And again, I’ve criticized his play all year – but the save percentages in this case are not indicative of his play.

  • snotss

    well do we get to see another play off flame out???? there still is time to get back in to this series…i don’t feel all warm and fuzzy…..the flames play off record is pathetic…it really is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!