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Photo Credit: Rob Chenoy/USA Today Sports

Line matching didn’t matter much in Game 3

The Calgary Flames didn’t do a whole lot with their home ice advantage in two home playoff games. They did even less to make life difficult for the Avalanche in Colorado in Game 3.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the Flames and Avalanche lined up (by forward lines) in Game 3. Each center is listed by 5 on 5 ice time and with their Corsi For percentage against each of the other team’s centers. Matchups that they won possession-wise are bolded.

Game 3

MacKinnon Soderberg Calvert Jost
Monahan 4:19
1 GA
Backlund 4:16
1 GA
Jankowski 2:39
Ryan 4:01

Two key things to note from Game 3:

First, the Flames’ top line fared pretty well against three of four Colorado lines. That’s a low-key good development, but bear in mind it doesn’t really matter much because of the context – the Avalanche were up early and led the entire game, so score effects should be considered.

Second, check out the lack of concentrated ice time in terms of Colorado really trying to get a particular match-up. The Avalanche were up early in this game and hit cruise control, and nowhere can that be seen more than the ice time breakdown: they simply did not care enough about how the Flames were playing to do anything but just roll their lines.

If the Avalanche wanted to shut down the Monahan line, the ice time for the MacKinnon line would’ve been heavily tilted towards that line – the same way Backlund’s ice time was stacked towards that line in the two Calgary games. But the Avalanche were far enough ahead (and thought so little of the Flames’ performances) that they didn’t actively seek out matches or seek to avoid any.

If the Flames want to have a shot at winning this series, they need to stay in games and make the Avalanche work hard to maintain specific matchups.

    • Ludis Fanaticus

      To be fair, the Jets didn’t look great until they got that tying goal.
      I hope it doesn’t take that for our guys to setting into their game. Then again, an early goal would be most helpful.

  • Justthateasy

    Tonight is your game 7 boys. You lose this one you’re done! This is ALL IMPORTANT game 4. Game 4 always determines if one team is on the ropes or all evened up. This is the most important game of any series.
    You need to play like the Jets, not the Sharks. We at least have superior goaltending to the Sharks.
    Stay out of the box. Quietly target their captain and wait for retaliation.
    No more maybes, the time is now. Do something.!

    • cornwallroyals

      Agree with game 4 importance. Whoever wins tonite probably has good chance to win series. If we lose then consolation is we pick 22nd in the draft. Sometimes the most difficult series to win for a top seeded team is the very first round. GFG

      • Pete_R

        I feel like that you may be over valuing Brodie. That said, Kadri is probably over valued as he gets so much attention being in Toronto. Maybe it is a wash? Still, Brodie is struggling to stay in the line-up, and hasn’t been very good for 3 years now. Gotta be more in it for the Leafs.

  • withachance

    Just wanted to throw something out there, total speculation from me here.

    Lot’s of talk about Toronto could trade Kadri in the offseason (probably just your typical media guesswork, but still). How would a Brodie for Kadri trade look for everyone? Calgary gets a gritty center who has 30 goal pedigree, Toronto gets a top 4 dman for the same cap that can actually play on the right side.

    sending good luck to the boys tonight!

      • withachance

        Calgary might have to throw a pick in there but I think it could be a conversation between the teams no? It just makes sense for both teams to satisfy a need

        • withachance

          he definitely walk the line for sure, but a lot of talk has been the supposed lack of physicality and grit, something Kadri can bring in spades. Thought it might be a good fit for both teams

      • withachance

        Id say Kadri would be the second best scoring centre on the team. When he actually played top 6 minutes, he got 32 goals in a season, twice. His decrease this year is because he to play solely play shut down center role with both Matthews and Tavares in the scene.

        Everyone wants Backs as a 3rd line center, with Kadri, Backs can focus on defence, Kadri takes 2C as a legit scoring threat. At least worth a look no?

        • Cfan in Van

          5 suspensions already. The league doesn’t get easier on players with a history, they only get harder. I agree he’s got elements that the Flames could really use, but he’s painted himself into a corner.

        • Skylardog

          We need a scoring center on at least par with Mony if not better. I think this is a Stanley Cup team by replacing Janko with a 40 goal scoring center and another 30 goal RW. That is our weakness, and by bring those types of players in, Monahan gets better matchups.

          Kadri fits neither of those requirement.

          • MDG1600

            Maybe BT can just head over to 7-11 and pick up a slurpee along with a 40 goal centreman and 30 goal RW. You can day dream if you want but a Brodie for Kadri trade is at least a realistic possibility and I believe it would improve the team.

          • Skylardog

            Brodie, Janko, Frolik out. That frees up enough for an $8M forward with $3M to spare.

            Stick with me here. Hanifin out, Vali to replace him. Sign Fantenberg. We now have about $7.0M for another top forward.

            Buy out Stone for another $2.0M per season gets us some breathing room for tweaks.
            Neal remains unmovable (Stone is too but only 1 year bought out means 2 years on the books). Neal would be an 8 year buyout timeline if we buy him out this summer. Neal’s buyout chance will come under a new CBA.

            Unfortunately we will have to give up something to get cap space. Hanifin is the one that makes sense with Vali available to fill the void.

            We will also need a UFA RD to fill the void when Ras moves up to the top pairing.

          • withachance

            Im trying to be realistic here. every single team in the league needs a 40 and 30 goal scorer, they’re not that common – kadri addition would for sure be a definite improvement to the team squad, and dealing a dman from a position of strength just makes sense.

            Just a question of is his temper worth the trouble for him.

    • Sterls

      I would be down for that too, but I would try to pry Kapanen out of TO as well. Something like Janko, Brodie, and a pick or perhaps even Kylington for Kapanen and Kadri. Kadri might complement Bennett well, both gritty, and some of Kadri’s best seasons he had Komerov on his wing so he plays well with more north south type players. Kapanen could then be slot into the top 6 perhaps even on the top line allowing Lindholm to play with Backlund and Byng. I do agree though that Kadri’s record for stupid suspensions is concerning, but Calgary is deep enough at Center that in that eventuality someone like Dube or Bennett could slide into that position for the needed time. Monahan, Backlund, Kadri, Ryan down the middle would be sweet.

  • aye

    Are we going to be like the Jets, or Lightnings? Time to find out the character of the team.
    Seriously, I gave CLB more of a fighting chance than the hockey experts, and maybe even a potential upset, because despite their inconsistencies, I thought they were still a solid team with many weapons, but the sweep was absolutely shocking!
    NYI sweeping PIT was also shocking to me.
    If anything to be learned from these series is that coaching matters. Trotz hands down should be the Jack Adams winner. And right now, I think he’s a better coach than Babcock.
    Come on BP, rally your troops!

  • Skylardog

    This is not about line matching. It is about matching defensemen against MacKinnon.

    Ras and Fantenburg, as I have been saying, are the only ones holding their own against the MacKinnon line, while Gio and Brodie are managing. The regular pairings need to be left alone. This is one of the few situations where I would not say that Ras should be with Gio.

    Hamonic and Hanifin are getting destroyed by Mac, but despite that have only had 1 goal against. Smith has been saving everybody’s bacon.

    With Ras and Fant, at least playing half their shifts against Mac, it will open up the opportunity for Gio and Brodie to play with either Mony or Backs line against someone else. We need this for an offensive advantage.

    While the minutes in the series are small, when Fantenburg is on the ice, MacKinnon has had no opportunities. He has just 2 Corsi For shots, and not a single shot on goal at 5v5. They have played against each other 5:30. While a small sample, anyone who has held Mac shotless in this series in 5 minutes plus has to be doing something right. Most of that time was played with Ras.

    Ras’s numbers are contaminated by time with Gio. Ras has been less effective with Gio against Mackinnon. With Fant the pair have been awesome.

    I am not saying Ras and Fant should be strictly matched against Mackinnon. We need 2 pairing doing the job. Fatigue will be a factor.

    Not a single forward in the series has a CF% over 50% in the series against Mac. None of them can handle him. But the Backlund line appears to have had the most success at limiting shots. Mony’s line is second best.

    But Bennett is the best forward at containing Mac in terms of shots – no surprise here. He is an outlier as his linemates do not match his success at limiting Mac.

    Based on what the numbers show, go:
    and match those lines against Mackinnon when they are out with either Ras-Fant or Gio-Brodie

    Then go
    and play those two lines with either Hanifin-Hamonic or Gio-Brodie.

    That leaves Ras and Fant up when Mac comes back out.

    I am not saying Monahan should be the fourth center. We simply need to get him favourable matchups with good offensive defensemen. If you like, switch Mony and Lind. Balance and 4 threatening lines is the goal here. Make it hard for the Avs to deal with us when MacKinnon is not on the ice.

    Yes – I have Neal in, mainly because Janko is the weak link right now and Quine looked awful in the last few games of the season.

    I would say Lazar should be in for Neal except he is not with the club. Curtis was the Stockton player of the year, and brings much needed speed and a physical presence to the lineup that we desperately need. His game is similar to Bennys. His value would go up in a playoff scenario. He should at the very least be available if needed. Peters made a HUGE error in not giving him at least 2 or 3 games in the final stretch to see what he had. 4:48 of icetime and being dressed for just one game was a slap in the face for a guy that proved he deserved a fair look with the big club this season. Peters should have been using the stretch to get a good idea of what our backup guys could do. He failed in doing that. Now we know nothing about our Black Aces, save a limited amount of info on Quine. The Black Aces also have no icetime at the NHL level if they are called upon.

    • Dunk

      Totally agree…would also live to see Valamaki instead of Brody. Lets get some youthful excitement in the game. Im really tired of the MEEK flame players. Buy in everyone…
      Go flames go.

      • Skylardog

        I would like to see Vali in for Brodie too, but it isn’t happening.

        Until Fant has shown he can’t play against MacKinnon (right now his perceived value is in that role), he should stay in. If Fant has a rough game then you can sub in Vali for Fant.

        I did not like the look of Brodie-Fantenberg, but the numbers say I am wrong. However, I think we are seeing game effects in the positive numbers, and almost no time playing against the MacKinnon line.

        • buts

          Bednar is out coaching BP badly in this series as he just double shifts MacKinnons line when he wants and its not about matching forwards or D it’s about all the lines supporting the D so they don’t have to backup into Smitty and can standup on the blueline. Forward awareness having one guy high to support any turnovers. Body positioning in the D zone is none existent as the players follow the puck like peewees and don’t pick up a man and stay on the net side. These games are what shows what a player is made of. You can tell who is a winner or loser in these games. GFG

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      I like your changed up lines, except if the Czar-Monahan-Neal line gets caught out against the Mackinnon line, you’ll be fishing the puck out of the back of your net

      Flames need to up their will to win, that will change this series. It’s a mental block, skill wise they are the better team, but we can see what can happen, example Tampa, when mentally you aren’t prepared for the playoff grind

        • CalgaryBornandRaised

          I like Lazar’s energy, but he cannot hit the broadside of a barn, there is a reason he spent the majority of the year in the AHL, he’s a guy that’s dominant at the AHL level, but not a full time NHL player

          I would go,

          Neal-Janko-Czar (play limited minutes)

          • Skylardog


            James Neal this season, playing on an offensive juggernaut

            5v5 – 5G – 13P in 784 minutes – 0.99P/60
            All situations -7G – 19P in 942 minutes, 1.21 P/60

            Curtis Lazar – Playing on a low scoring team with Stajan and Brouwer for the most part
            5v5 – 2G – 11P in 604 minutes – 1.09P/60
            All Situations – 2G – 12P in 640 minutes – 1.13 P/60

            Neal gets over 100 minutes on the PP, Lazar gets just 5. Yet in terms of GF/60, Lazar is better at 5v5, and nearly matches Neal points in 180 less minutes. Neal also gets significant time with Monahan, Gaudreau, and Backlund. Lazar? – not much chance.

            Lazar get 30ish minutes of PK time, and is ranked 10th in the NHL in 2017-18 in terms of GA/60. We could use that right now with the Avs PP being deadly.

            James Neal, -5 on a team that put up 60+ more goals than they had against.
            Lazar was -8 on a team that could neither score nor keep the puck out of the net.

            Lazar has got his confidence back, but will not score a ton. But neither will Neal.

            As for hits, lets use hits/game.

            Lazar would rank second among all Flames we still have on the roster, behind only Hath
            Ahead of him would be Ferly, Glass, Lomberg, and Freddie Hamilton. Even Benny has a lower H/G rate.

            Neal ranks well down the list at the same pace as Backlund, and just ahead of Monahan in terms of H/G

            Sure Lazar is a downgrade compared to Neal?

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      The results from having Gio-Ras as a pair did not work out too good. They were the pair in OT, when McKinnon blew by them. They had trouble as a pair in game 3. Individually, they are both great players. Together takes awa speed from the top pair. Love or hate Brodie, he can outskate both of them easily. I don’t hate your lines, but there are other choices. Maybe you try JH-Lindholm-Ryan, Mangiapane-Monahan-Neal, Tkachuk-Backlund-Bennett and finally Frolik-Janko-Hathaway(Czarnik). My logic is that JH has two RHS to pass to or get passes from. Both players are creative and neither takes shifts off. Mangiapane provides a creative player to Monahan and Neal. He can finish and also sets up plays from the boards. Pretty slick hands too. Tkachuk gets his buddy back on RW and maybe gets set up for a change. Frolik and Janko provide some stability, and you play eiother Hathaway or Czarnik on RW. I was less happy with Hathaway after the dumb penalty he took last game.

  • Raffydog

    I’m so happy for Sam Bennett, it’s about time this fanbase started to show him some love. Hes been my favorite Flame since he joined the team, and ya I’ve ragged on him as well, he can be frustratingly inconsistent at times, but he has the biggest heart on the team and I love hearing him get the accolades he deserves.

      • Rudy27

        Benny got off to a bad start missing almost all of the first year due to injury. That’s huge for a young player. Then doing well in his first playoff experience probably prevented him from going to the AHL to hone is skills at the professional level.

        Lazar may have worked out too if the Senators didn’t rush him into the NHL without AHL seasoning.

  • HowToActuallyMakeTheFlamesWin

    This IS The Lineup Calgary Needs To Play To Win The Next Game 4, Listen and WIN or Ignore and Lose, The definition of insanity is the doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

    Gaudreau – Tkachuk ( Yes he can play centre) – Bennett
    Neal – Monahan – Frolik
    Mangiapane – Backlund – Lindholm
    Jankowski – Ryan – Hathaway

    Giordano – Hamonic
Hanifin – Andersson

    Valimaki – Brodie

  • Off the wall

    In every series, there’s always a few players who seem to rise to the top.

    Scheifele did it for the Jets.
    Mackinnon is doing it for the Avalanche.
    Stone for the Knights.
    Eberle for NYI?! And Barzal
    Duchene for the CBJ

    Our leading scorer? Mr Mustache, Sam Bennett, the guy who plays on our 3rd line!

    If Bennett is our guy, why not reward him with 1st line duties?
    He’s definitely earned it.

    I don’t think at this point, we have any choice. Use the players who are contributing. And use them often!

    Our 4th line has been the only consistent line. Give them the ice time they deserve.

    Line matching against the Avs isn’t the only way we’re going to win. We need production.

    Gaudreau can’t do it alone. The physical aspect of the playoffs, requires gritty players to shield him. Bennett is the perfect fit.
    I don’t care what the lineup looks like. If you’re not going, you get used sparingly. It’s imperative we WIN tonight!

    I didn’t decorate my truck to watch the Flames flicker out. It was pathetic enough seeing SAN Jose do it last night.

    I still believe in our team, now I want to see the proof!

  • Jessemadnote

    This data is essentially pointless. only 2 out of 8 goals in the game are accounted for and Monahan’s line did anything but “Fared pretty well.” Seriously guys look into giveaways, takeaways, hits, zone entries, rush attempts anything but 5v5 corsi when analyzing Game 3.

  • Off the wall

    Just one more thing.
    Take Lindholm off the PK!

    He’s gassed. Besides, I really don’t want to waste another minute of watching Neal trying to create offence with Gaudreau and Monahan after a penalty kill.

    Lindholm takes a regular shift, PK duties and PP duties!
    You’re killing him Peters!!!!

  • KeepitReal

    The Avs aren’t paying any price for chasing pucks into their corners. They exit their zone unscathed. With some minor exceptions. If we lose well so be it. But inflict a few battle scars along the way. Patrick freaking Laine is playing more physical than most Flames. We can juggle lines all day long but if you play like sheep instead of wolves, we are finished.

    • The Penn

      We need a huge TEAM effort every game. N0 passengers .If a player any player can’t supply the effort required. Staple his a$$ to the bench
      There are players waiting to show they can at least so some effort


  • WildfireOne

    I just want to see a Flame exiting a scrum along the boards with the puck more often than an opposition player. That simple metric, in both o and d zones, tells me whether they have their work boots on and the attitude adjusted.

    Have to give Ms. Campbell credit for this line last game: “They haven’t worked hard enough to generate their own luck.”

    Indeed, they need to play with the ferocity of wolves (thanks @KeepItReal)

  • calgaryfan

    The Flames are probably going to have to implement some sort of trap system to plug up the centre ice area to stop the Av’s from hitting the Calgary blue line at top speed. The Flames need to build some confidence and stop the free wheeling of the Av’s.

  • Skylardog

    I missed Dube in my lies above.

    JG-Lind or Mony-Tkachuk
    Dube-Mony or Lind-Lazar

    Anyone think Dube-Lind-Lazar could shut down MacKinnon? Share that duty with Backs line?

  • withachance

    Really? The vibe i get is that he’s a huge heart on the sleeve guy and teammates love that. hmm interesting thought though, would definitely be a factor if a trade happens