Game Takes: Colorado 6 Flames 2

April 15th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well what to say?

The Flames are completely out classed, not only in this game, but in the series itself when you consider the real estate occupied in game one, and most of game two by the Avalanche. They appear to be a 15th seed playing a 1st seed in the first round.

Their best players are their worst players, and with that they appear to be lost.

The season has been built on never out of a game, and that mantra will be tested on the big stage in the “never out of a series” escalation, but a lot of things are going to have to change if the Flames are going to get back in this thing and eventually win the series.

Can they do it? Sure they can. But it’s going to take a complete reset from most of the players in the dressing room, and especially the team’s best players.

Line Up Changes

No changes for the Flames in terms of players moving in and out of the lineup. There is a change when it comes to how said players in the lineup get utilized.

TJ Brodie had a tough night on Saturday as every one knows, so to rectify that situation going forward, Bill Peters moved Ramus Andersson up to the top pairing and Brodie down to play with Oscar Fantenberg. Andersson has shown poise through his first two career playoff games, and can likely handle the increased load. Interesting to see how Brodie manages a lesser role and better matchups. Bottom line … it’s Peters and things will likely change anyway.

No change to the forward lines, and of course Mike Smith starts in goal again.

The Start

Calgary actually had a decent start, something you wouldn’t necessarily suspect if you only looked at the box score.

The Monahan line had two strong shifts, the Flames drew a powerplay on an Ian Cole crosscheck on Sean Monahan in the slot, and Mikael Backlund hit a goal post on the ensuing powerplay.

Things changed dramatically however when Calgary was whistled twice on the same play, a too many men on the ice for a premature change, and then a hooking call to Oscar Fantenberg that was iffy at best. Just like that it’s a two minute five on three and an inevitable Nathan Mackinnon goal.

Blaming it on the refs? Hardly, as it’s up to the team to kill off the second minor and get back to work. Instead a Garnet Hathaway minor and it’s 2-0. Minutes later its 3-0 and Bill Peters is calling a timeout.

You learn about yourself, how to win, how to lose, and what it takes in the playoffs. With the late loss in game two and rough start in game three the Flames are learning a PHD’s worth right now.

Match Ups

The tale of the tape when it comes to the Nathan Mackinnon matchups shows a team playing on the road.

The Flame’s second pairing of Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic played roughly seven minutes against Mackinnon on the night, but were followed by no less than ten Calgary Flames players that played roughly four minutes against the Avalanche’s best player.

Ironically, the Monahan/Gaudreau pairing had the best luck against Mackinnon, maybe something to cling to if you’re searching for a silver lining.

What is Wrong With Johnny Gaudreau?

For the record the title is focused on one player, but it isn’t a one player issue.

I’m well aware that Elias Lindholm is fighting the puck and has lost his offensive game. Sean Monahan has been missing in action for weeks and hasn’t come close to finding his game from the first three quarters of the season.

But Johnny Gaudreau is the player that drives the line, and right now he’s taking on water.

The creative juices seem to have hit a glitch the worse things get on the scoreboard. You see it in almost every level of hockey, good players try to do too much when things aren’t going the team’s way, and with that they go individual, stop using their teammates and start forcing plays all over the ice.

Having depth is great, you can come in waves, but if the crest of the first wave never rolls over things just don’t build momentum from there. Line one has to get going.

Sam Bennett Again

A few more huge hits, including a play behind the Colorado net where he sent his favourite target Ian Cole into Superman mode was nice. Adding his first goal of the series to go with three assists gives him four points on the series in eight Calgary goals, and all the assists are primary.

If you could take a little of what Sam Bennett is doing and sprinkle it on the other players it would certainly help.

Bulletin Board Stuff

I’m guessing the team’s players aren’t all that much into getting back at a Denver crowd, but the “Flames You Suck” and “Smitty” chants might be a start if they do take things personally.

Nathan Mackinnon though, may have provided a bit of fire if the Flames need any more motivation than they could pull from tonight’s spanking. After the first period Mackinnon proudly told Denver TV that the Avalanche have dominated all eight periods in the series to that point.

He’s not far off … the Flames probably squared the first in game one, won the second, played well in shut down in the third, and were brutal in all three regular periods in game two before playing well in overtime, but to hear it called a sweep certainly speaks to confidence.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Flames 29 Avalanche 56
Face Offs – Flames 61%
Special Teams – Flames 1/6 Avalanche 2/8

Player Stats:
Points – Six players with a point.
Plus/Minus – Sam Bennett, if you can believe it was a + player in this game.
Shots – Many with three

Fancy Stats

This won’t be for the faint of heart, but then I’m guessing if you’re still reading this far you know where this is going. Five on five the Avalanche had 53% of the shot attempts, a total much lower than the second game if you can believe it. They did it on period splits of 64%/46% and 50%. Scoring chances were 26-18 or 59% Colorado, and high danger chances were 9-5 or 64%.

Where things got really grizzly was on the powerplay, as the Avalanche dominated Calgary’s penalty killers. In all situations Colordao had 57% of the shot attempts, 64% of the scoring chances and 72% of the high danger chances (18-7). That’s not good.

Individually, Monahan and Gaudreau led the way with 59% and 56% respectively. Only two other players; Oscar Fantenberg and Elias Lindholm were above 50%, and four others (Mark Giordano, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and TJ Brodie) were at 50% even. Derek Ryan, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski and Noah Hanifin were all under 40%.

Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic were 0-5 in high danger splits.

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