Calgary Flames Game Day 28: A Mile High match-up with the Avalanche (7:30pm MT)

Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
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After a season-high six game homestand that saw them win three and lose three, the Calgary Flames (11-13-3, 25 points) are back on the road and hoping to climb back to the .500 mark. They start a heck of a challenging back-to-back to kick off their week-long trip on Monday against the Colorado Avalanche (16-9-2, 34 points). The Flames played a really good game against Colorado last time out; can they do it again?
The broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West, One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames are +150 underdogs against the Avalanche on Betway.

The Flames

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff (and NHL.com’s correspondent in Denver):
Zary – Lindholm – Sharangovich
Mangiapane – Kadri – Pospisil
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube
Weegar – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Solovyov – Gilbert
Coming off Saturday’s loss, we’re projecting Dan Vladar to start, backed up by Dustin Wolf. (Vladar was supposed to start on Saturday, but was recovering from the flu.) While the flu bug going around the team could cause some curveballs, our expectations are that the extras will be Jordan Oesterle, Walker Duehr and Matt Coronato.
The Flames are an aggressively .500 team this season. And here’s what we mean by that: they’ve got talent. They’re a fairly good team. Anybody who tells you that they’re a bad team is incorrect. But they’re a good team that has bad habits, and gets in their own way a lot. They’re a team that plays a pretty structured, suffocating, high-tempo style that attempts to wear their opposition down at five-on-five, and they’re systemically reliant on special teams to be a positive difference-maker.
When their special teams were hot, their five-on-five play wasn’t great. Now that their five-on-five play is cooking, their special teams – especially their power play – is faltering. This is a team that’s the equivalent of the proverbial child with their fingers plugging holes in a dam: as they plug one hole, another leak springs. That’s what’s kept them around .500 for the last while, frustratingly unable to get their heads fully above water.
But if the Flames can fix their special teams faster than they keep springing leaks in their game, perhaps they can go on a bit of a run.

The Avalanche

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff (and NHL.com’s correspondent in Denver):
Drouin – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Nichushkin – Johansen – Tatar
Wood – Colton – O’Connor
Cogliano – Olofsson – MacDermid
Toews – Makar
Byram – Malinski
Johnson – Jones
We’re projecting Alexandar Georgiev to start, backed up by Ivan Prosvetov. It appears they’ll have no healthy extras, with Joel Kiviranta and Josh Manson expected to miss the game with minor injuries or illnesses.
The Avalanche beat the Flames by a 3-1 score back on Nov. 25. Since then, Colorado has gone 2-3-2 while the Flames have gone 3-3-0. The Avalanche are a team that has a lot of talent and firepower – their defensive group on paper is excellent – but injuries and inconsistency have kept them at the level of merely “very good” so far this season rather than truly elite.
But man, the Avalanche always seem like an intimidating opponent for all the reasons you can imagine. They have a few players – especially Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon – that can take over hockey games.
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Unavailable players

The Flames are without Oliver Kylington, Jakob Pelletier, Kevin Rooney and Jacob Markstrom.
The Avalanche are without Gabriel Landeskog, Pavel Francouz, Artturi Lehkonen and Samuel Girard.

The numbers

25 (.463)Points (%)34 (.630)

Head to head

This is the second of three games between Calgary and Colorado this season. Colorado won their first meeting last month, and they’ll close out their season series at the Saddledome in March.

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