Calgary Flames Post-Game: Disjointed Flames picked apart by Avalanche
Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike6 months ago
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The Calgary Flames went into Denver on Saturday night needing points in their chase for a Western Conference playoff spot. But an all-too-common script – defensive miscues and goaltending that couldn’t bail out the team – resulted in a very one-sided evening against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flames lost 4-1 to Colorado to close out their road trip with just three of a possible six points.
The Flames had some jump on their first few shifts, but 3:05 in, a common weakness reared its ugly head: goals scored on the first shot the Flames faced. An attempted zone exit passing sequence involving Dennis Gilbert and Dillon Dube didn’t connect – and Nikita Zadorov couldn’t grab a bouncing loose puck – allowing the Avalanche to grab the puck. Nathan MacKinnon rifled the puck past Jacob Markstrom to give the Avalanche an early 1-0 lead.
The next Colorado shot also beat Markstrom. The Avalanche headed into the Flames’ zone with numbers and speed, making some nice passes that backed the defenders in. The puck was shuffled to Alex Newhook at the top of the circles, and his shot (with some traffic between him and the net) beat Markstrom top corner to make it 2-0 Avalanche.
Early in the second period, the Avalanche made it 3-0 on a power play. With Elias Lindholm in the box, the Avalanche cycled the puck and Valeri Nichushkin’s one-timer from the face-off dot to Markstrom’s left was slightly redirected by Mikko Rantanen’s stick past Markstrom to give the home team a three-goal lead.
The Flames looked pretty flat and in need of a spark, and they got one late in the second period. After a whistle, an Avalanche player gave Milan Lucic a shove. He took umbrage, and that led to a fight between him and Kurtis MacDermid, ending with a stiff right hand across MacDermid’s jaw that knocked him to the ice.
Shortly after that, Andrew Cogliano took a penalty and the Flames got a big opportunity on a power play. A Rasmus Andersson point shot got booted to the side for Tyler Toffoli, who beat Alexandar Georgiev from a bad angle to cut the Colorado lead to 3-1.
But that’s as close as the Flames were going to get. Denis Malgin hit the Flames zone with some speed early in the third period and took advantage of some defensive miscommunication, cutting in-between Nikita Zadorov and Jonathan Huberdeau and beating Markstrom short-side to give the Avalanche a 4-1 lead.
The Avalanche held on to pick up the victory.
Why the Flames lost
Was the goaltending particularly great? No. But the Flames’ defensive zone play was really shaky, and they consistently had challenges dealing with Colorado’s speed. They seemed on their heels when the Avalanche hit the zone with speed, and their puck management wasn’t great in their own zone as a consequence. They never really got their game going, and their whole group felt like individuals doing things individually rather than a cohesive team game.
The Flames didn’t get bailed out by their goalie when they really needed to be. But their defensive play really didn’t help their goaltender when it needed to, and as a result they got the L in a game where they really needed a W but definitely deserved the result they got. They were, easily, the second-best team on the ice.
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Let’s give it to Mikael Backlund. He was battling all evening, had a bunch of scoring chances and won a majority of his draws. On a Flames team that needed a spark, he provided some energy throughout the game.
It wasn’t entirely Markstrom’s fault, but two goals on two shots in a tough opposition barn against the defending Stanley Cup champions? It’s incredibly tough to work your way back from that, and it’s really tough to win on the road when you’re chasing the entire time.
This and that
Mentioned on the Sportsnet broadcast: the Flames have allowed the game-opening goal on the first shot faced by their goaltender seven times this season (all by Markstrom). Only Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed more goals on the first shot (eight) this season.
It was Nazem Kadri’s first trip back to Denver after winning a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche last season. They put together a nice tribute video.
The Flames remain winless – 0-14-2 – when entering a third period trailing.
The Flames (27-21-12) are headed home. They’re back in action on Tuesday evening when they host the powerhouse Boston Bruins.
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