Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames their own worst enemy in loss to Colorado

Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
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21 games into this season, it’s no secret that when the Calgary Flames are at their best, they utilize speed and puck movement within a system that uses sound structure in all three zones. The challenge is that when the Flames get into turnover trouble, especially against fast, skilled opponents, they can have a tough evening.
Turnovers and defensive lapses for the road team punctuated a 3-1 Flames loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, closing out a four-game road trip for the Flames with a 2-2-0 record.

The rundown

The Flames got an early power play in the first period, but a pair of consecutive penalties taken by the visitors wiped out about half of their power play (with their first minor) and set up Colorado’s opening goal (with their second minor).
Colorado hit the scoresheet just over six minutes into the game, on their second power play. The Avalanche headed into the Calgary zone off the rush. A bit of quick passing and player movement opened a clear lane to the net for Jonathan Drouin. He accepted a pass from Mikko Rantanen, drove towards the front of the net and beat Dan Vladar with a quick shot to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.
The Avalanche controlled much of the rest of the period, with the Flames going 14:06 between registering shots on goal.
First period shots were 10-4 Avalanche (6-3 Avalanche at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-2 Avalanche (high-dangers were 4-1 Avalanche).
The Flames had the puck a bunch to begin the second period and have some good looks at even strength. But a poorly-timed turnover – and some odd defensive decisions – gave the Avalanche a two-goal lead. Nikita Zadorov turned over the puck at the Colorado blueline to Ryan Johansen, who raced into the Flames zone. Johansen zipped around behind the net and went for a wrap-around. Dennis Gilbert chased him behind the net, while Zadorov stood in front of the net. Johansen’s wrap-around beat Vladar to make it 2-0 Avalanche.
The Flames got back within one a little later off a really nice battling and puck management sequence by Mikael Backlund’s line. Backlund passed the puck to Jonathan Huberdeau off a board battle won that line. Huberdeau skated to the slot, drawing the defenders with him, and passed to Backlund in the slot for a quick shot that beat Ivan Prosvetov to cut the Colorado lead to 2-1.
But just 34 seconds later, Colorado got their two-goal lead back. Nathan MacKinnon got the puck at the left point in the Flames’ zone. He fired a shot that glanced off MacKenzie Weegar, battling with a Colorado player in the slot area, and deflected past Vladar to give the Avalanche a 3-1 lead.
Second period shots were 11-8 Flames (11-7 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 13-7 Flames (high-danger chances were 3-3).
The Flames battled in the third period, as the game got a bit more physical and chippy. The Flames got slightly more zone time and shots on net than the Avalanche did, but the home team did a pretty capable job of keeping the Flames to the outside and minimizing the damage they did in their zone.
Vladar was pulled for the extra attacker with about 2:30 left in regulation. The Flames got a couple good chances but couldn’t bury anything, and the Avalanche held on for the 3-1 victory.
Third period shots were 16-6 Flames (11-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 13-7 Flames (high-dangers were 5-4 Flames).

Why the Flames lost

In Wednesday’s Flames loss in Nashville, Flames head coach Ryan Huska referred to his club as “slow and sloppy.” When you’re playing a team that plays as fast as Colorado does, it’s easy to look slow. But the Flames were also sloppy in terms of puck management and defensive positioning at the precise wrong times. Slow is a relative term, but sloppy is something each team can control.
Colorado’s such a good team, in terms of both talent and tactics, that trying to stifle them with structure and poise is often how you can grind points out of your meetings with them. The Flames didn’t really have either of those things in abundance on this occasion.
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Red Warrior

Let’s give it to the Backlund, Huberdeau and Blake Coleman trio. They generated the only goal for the Flames, and were generally among the most noticeable players on the road team.

Turning point

It was a tough deflection off a Flames defender, but man, that MacKinnon goal in the second period – just 34 seconds after the Flames scored to get within a goal – seemed like a back-breaker for the road team.

This and that

The Avalanche honoured former Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow – who passed away in late September after a four-year battle with ALS – before the game and his family were all over pre-game festivities. Cohen Snow read the Avalanche starters in their locker room, Willa Snow read the Flames starters in their locker room, and then they joined their mom, Kelsie, in dropping the puck for the ceremonial opening face-off to begin the game.
The Flames’ power play went 0-for-4 and registered just a single shot on goal (and a single scoring chance) in 7:22 of man advantage time.

Up next

The Flames (8-10-3) are headed home. They kick off a six game homestand on Monday night when they host the Vegas Golden Knights.

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