Game Takes: Avalanche 3 Flames 2 (OT) Series Tied 1-1

April 14th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

There are many schools of thought when it comes to how best prepare a team for the playoffs when they have little to play for in the final two weeks of the season.

You can rest players, as the Flames chose to do, something that avoids injury, takes care of nagging bumps and bruises and recharges batteries for key players. Other teams fear the loss of mojo or flow, and keep their players pushing until the end, fearing they’d be unable to relight that pilot light when the real games come for real.

Arguments can be made both ways for sure, but the Flames have certainly lost a little bit of that magic that led them to winning the conference in the regular season. They limped in with sketchy anemic offensive efforts against Anaheim and Edmonton, before finding the net on the powerplay twice in game one to find a win.

Tonight the right team won, there is little argument on that point as the Flames seemed to be hanging on for dear life from the drop of the puck as the Avalanche scored late in the third to tie a game they should have won going away, before getting the cash in from the hockey Gods in overtime for a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.

Line Up Changes

Not a one for either team.

The Flames come back with the same four lines, three defense pairings and of course Mike Smith in goal; the recipe that gave them their 1 game lead in the series.

Things changed as the game went on however, as Bill Peters swapped Michael Frolik, Sam Bennett and Elias Lindholm in the game, sending Bennett to the top line which worked out getting the winger two points. Additionally he sat down Oscar Fantenberg and TJ Brodie for stretches; more on Brodie later.

Mike Smith Stands Tall Again

What more could you want from Mike Smith on the night?

He was honestly the only player getting things done through three periods as he willed his club to overtime after almost pulling off the win in the traditional sixty minutes.

Turnovers led to two breakaways, too many too on ones, and a boatload of zone time as the Avalanche carried the play for most of the game. Without Smith’s night this one was over early, and by a good margin.

Bennett Has a Night

What is it with this guy and the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

At the first period buzzer he takes a penalty setting up powerplay for Colorado to start the second, a recipe for a tough Sam Bennett night. The Flames kill it off though, and then he draws one driving to the net, giving the Flames a powerplay that results in a shortie on a TJ Brodie / Rasmus Andersson turnover.

The Flames tie the score when Bennett makes a great backhand pass to Andersson and then in the third he picks up another assist getting the puck to the front of the net for Sean Monahan to whack in; a goal that almost became the game winner.

Later he crushes Ian Cole on a circus level hit that had the Avalanche defenseman angrily complaining to the officials all the way back to the bench.

Quite the night for #93.

Brodie Has the Other Type

TJ Brodie had one of his brain fart nights.

I thought he was fine overall, but how much water does that hold when you turn the puck over leading to breakaways twice on powerplays on the night.

His first blunder was all read; the Avalanche were taking away the bump back pass but he gave it to the defender anyway. You have to see and read on that play, if they take that option away then it’s a four on three on the attack and you go for it. He got away with that one when Mike Smith stoned Gabriel Landeskog.

The second gaff resulted in the Avalanche’s first goal. This time he was partly unlucky with a bouncing puck, but still guilty of a bad read as a 50/50 play at the blueline should result in backing out and not putting his team in such a tough spot.

Matt Nieto gets by him, Brodie loses his stick and Nieto scores on the breakaway.


Flames Playing Slow

You know things aren’t quite right when the Flames are using that stretch pass tip in play, or the hoist the puck high in the air into center option on almost every breakout. That’s not Flames hockey.

Tonight it appeared to be a combination of forwards exiting too quickly, and defenseman exhausted from too much defensive zone time with the pressing Avs making life difficult and sapping the Calgary ability to counter.

With games every second night there won’t be a lot of practice time with travel tomorrow, so change will have to come from the blackboard. But Peters has to get them back to “have the puck all the time” Calgary Flames if they want to ensure at least a split in Denver when they land in Mile High.

Red Lot

I was in the building so I didn’t get to see the TV feeds of the Flame’s new out door party venue, but from the highlights I saw when I got home it looked pretty damn cool.

Red clad fans watching the game in twilight hours with the Calgary tower and the starry sky as a backdrop made for some good television.

I felt so bad for the organizers on the way into the game on Thursday with the inclement weather pretty much killing the whole notion.

If the Flames can find their game and get through a round, some better shorts and flip flop weather will really add to the fell as well.

The Gaudreau Dive

Just don’t get that call.

I honestly don’t have a problem with not calling it on Denver only, it was a struggle play. Sure Patrik Nemeth had some mitts in on Gaudreau and it could have been called, but calling both guys wasn’t as neutral as you’d think.

Sending the Avalanche to a four on four with MacKinnon and Landeskog was a dangerous situation, when you’ve sent Calgary’s four on four player to the box to watch.

They can’t and shouldn’t call anything, but if you to let it go, then just let it go. Otherwise you’re inadvertently picking sides.

Silver Lining?

With the Avalanche controlling the pace, Bednar seemed to be adjusting Nathan Mackinnon’s ice time downwards despite his claim that the kid can play 26 minutes a night and wants the ice.

Through sixty minutes he was down to 24 minutes, but finished with 26 minutes on the night, playing only two plus minutes in the 12 minute overtime period, well off his ratio through the series.

A fear of wearing the guy out seems to be taking hold, and could play a huge role towards the end of the series, should it go long.


All playoff seasons have ups and downs. The Flames won game one without playing their game to the level we’ve seen. They almost won game two without playing at all.

That’s a good sign, though a frustrating one.

This season we’ve seen a lot of Bill Peters adjustments, and a lot of Bill Peters sound bytes stating he has a good team when they play the right way. He certainly knows what the right way is and he has almost two days to remind them of that before they drop the puck again.

I’d assume that message gets consumed.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Flames 37 Avalanche 39
Face Offs – Flames 65%
Special Teams – Flames 1/5 Avalanche 0/4

Player Stats:
Points – Sam Bennett with two assists.
Plus/Minus – Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Noah Hanifin at +1
Shots – Johnny Gaudreau with five.

Fancy Stats

Want a night where the eye test and the fancy stats match up perfectly? This could be the one. The Flames looked to be hanging on, and the five on five stats support that notion fully. The Flames had 38% of the shot attempts five on five with period splits of 30%/32%/32% and 83%, as they come alive in overtime. Scoring chances were the same at 38% Flames, and high danger chances not much different at 43% Calgary. That’s all Avalanche folks.

In all situations Calgary had 42% of the shot attempts, 42% of the scoring chances and 47% of the high danger chances, with the extra powerplay.

Not a single Flames player was on the positive side of the ledger when it comes to shot attempt shares. Sean Monahan and James Neal led the way at 47%, followed by Johnny Gaudreau and Noah Hanifin and 45%. Mark Giordano brought up the rear at 30%, joined by Derek Ryan, Sam Bennett and TJ Brodie.

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