Game Takes: Avs 3 Flames 2 (OT)

April 17th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Three teams faced the spooky narrative of going down 3-1 in games tonight, the first two chronologically turned the tide and tied their series at 2-2, the Flames not so much as they drop a 3-2 overtime game in Denver to put themselves 60 or so minutes from an early exit to this year’s playoffs.

The better team won, there’s no point in sugar coating it. The Flames had a 2-0 lead in the third period, went into a shell and then had some calls go against them in the end that resulted in an overtime period. I don’t agree with all the calls for sure, but it’s hard to dispute that from the 35 minute point of the game on, the Avalanche pretty much took over.

The Flames are a fragile group. Their best players are simply far from their best players, and in a series where stars are taking over on the other side that will never be enough.

Line Up Changes

Only one change for the Flames from the debacle on Monday, with Oscar Fantenberg coming out, TJ Brodie moving up to the top pairing and Juuso Valimaki making his career playoff debut on a pairing with Rasmus Andersson.

The change isn’t really an indictment on Fantenberg, as he played fine, but it gives the Flames some size, speed and offensive impact from the third pairing and may be better suited to the opposition.

No change in the forward ranks, and Mike Smith starts once again in goal.

Gut Check time

Honestly can’t believe how poorly the Flames played on Monday night.

When the season first began and the team was a dichotomy in statistics; giving up almost league best shots and shot attempts against, but leading (or trailing rather) in how many high danger chances they bled I had a worrisome theory that Bill Peters hockey would be exactly that; puck control followed by utter and complete melt downs.

The ass kicking from Pittsburgh changed all that, as they buckled down and became one of the top three high danger chance against clubs the rest of the way.

Going into tonight’s game you had to hope the same was true. Overtime loss without playing well should have been a wake up call, but maybe getting pounded would get everyone’s attention.

So yeah they certainly got off the map, they were minutes from winning once again in this series, but they’re still far from the team we saw most of the season in Calgary.

The Calls

I’m just never going to be that blame it on the refs guy.

Overall the refs were inconsistent, but I guess we’re getting used to that from the games to date, and really from the last several years. I thought the slashing call in Brodie was a little iffy given the fact that they let everything go to that point.

At the end Backlund had a stick on Landeskog’s leg for sure, not sure it was a trip or a hook, but his stick was there. But man what an impact time to call that penalty, something made worse when they missed the Matt Calvert high stick on Juuso Valimaki seconds after the Avs’ tied it.

So not saying the refs did the team in, as the Flames went on their heels for the last 25 minutes and that is never a recipe, but the team may be due a bounce or two.

Juuso Valimaki Solid

What more can you say about the kid?

Plays 17+ minutes, picks up an assist, is +1 and leads the team in possession stats.

Really you almost have to wonder why the kid wasn’t playing from the start, and that’s no slight on Oscar Fantenberg, as he’s been fine.

Clearly he stays in for game five, and almost as clearly this guy is an NHL hockey player and will be a mainstay next year on the Flame’s blueline.

Mike Smith Again

Simply unbelievable in this series, nobody would argue that. You keep thinking the clock will strike 12 at the ball for the 37 year old, especially with the workload they’re giving up the Avalanche in this series.

Honestly who would have thought? The Mike Smith story was written wasn’t it? He was finished as an NHL goaltender, a player that was no longer good enough to back up for the rest of the season despite his contract running out. Instead he’s easily been the best player for the Flames in this series, and I guess the biggest hope to turn the tables in this series and get back into it.

Tonight it’s 49 saves on 52 shots for a .944 save percentage, and 108 shots in the two games in Denver – that’s simply insane.

Mike Smith Mask

Wanted to point out last game, but was too quick to the misery to remember, … Mike Smith wearing his Vernon mask on the road is a new wrinkle.

We’ve seen the Vernon mask at home and only when they where the retro jerseys, so to see them on the road with the newbie whites has to be more about luck and superstition given the fashion conscious nature of the starting goaltender.

Have to Feel Bad For Backlund

His line was the team’s best, they had the game in their hands, and he takes a late penalty that results in the tying goal for the Avalanche.

To add to his rough night he gets the best look in the overtime period, but can’t get it over the pad of a prone Phillip Grubauer to win the game and redeem himself.

The veteran stands in and answers all questions at the end of the game like a pro, and but you just know he’s going to be screaming into his pillow when he gets home to Calgary tonight.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Flames 37 Avalanche 52
Face Offs – Avalanche 51%
Special Teams – Flames 1/3 Avalanche 1/4

Player Stats:
Points – Five players with a point.
Plus/Minus – Ryan, Tkachuk, Valimaki, Andersson and Frolik at +1.
Shots – Rasmus Andersson with 7

Fancy Stats

The Flames were much better tonight, there is little doubt, but of the four games tonight was the third where the Avalanche were the better team in the end, game one being the only one I’d give to the Flames.

In terms of five on five shot attempts the Avalanche had 60% on period splits of 58%/56%/65% and 67%. In terms of scoring chances the Avalanche had 63% with a 38-22 record, and in high danger chances it was 59% Colorado with a 19-13 split.

In terms of all situations the Avalanche had leads of 58% in shot attempts, 64% in scoring chances and 62% in high danger chances.

Individually, the Flames were led by Juuso Valimaki with 65%, followed closely by his partner Rasmus Andersson at 63%. The only other player above the break even mark was Matthew Tkachuk at 53%. On the negative side, Garnet Hathaway and Travis Hamonic were both under 30%.



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