Game Takes: Avalanche 6 Flames 2

March 12th, 2024 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that’s three laugher’s in a row.

And I don’t think it’s an effort thing.

The Flames are a depleted group; we all know about the five UFAs exiting, but then tonight two late scratches with Andrei Kuzmenko and Andrew Mangiapane both missing for injury and illness.

So the result, a 6-2 Avalanche victory hardly comes as a surprise for a Flames team that is pretty much out of it as they look forward to their last 17 games.

It’s unlikely to get better.

The Lineup

Change, change and more change.

Up front Martin Pospisil returns with Walker Duehr taking a seat to make room. Additionally we see wingers move between three of the four lines.

So look for Yegor Sharangovich between Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrei Kuzmenko (haven’t seen that in a few weeks), Mikael Backlund with his usual linemates Blake Coleman and Andrew Mangiapane, Nazem Kadri gets Pospisil back and Jakob Pelletier, and a new fourth line with Kevin Rooney between Dryden Hunt and Matt Coronato.

On the blueline the same six guys are in the lineup, but all three pairings are different. Oliver Kylington moves up to play with Rasmus Andersson, Mackenzie Weegar gets Daniil Miromanov, and Joel Hanley is lined up with Brayden Pachal.

With Jacob Markstrom dinged up, Dan Vladar gets the start in goal.

Line Metrics Coming In

Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Kuzmenko 70.0%
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman 56.4%
Pelletier – Kadri – Pospisil 10.7% (4 minutes)
Hunt – Rooney – Coronato NA

Kylington – Andersson 51.3%
Weegar – Miromanov 90.7% (90 seconds)
Hanley – Pachal 100.0% (3 minutes)

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +18.6
Vladar -9.6
Wolf -8.8

Trend Tracker

I’m always intrigued with the all time list and players moving up in the rankings and into interesting spots in the team’s history.

With the recent exodus of many long time Flames (Lindholm, Hanifin specifically … to a lesser extent Toffoli, Zadorov and Tanev), things are going to get a little more dull on that front.

Mikael Backlund.

That’s it. That’s the story.

For games played the current roster has Mikael Backlund at #2, the next closest guy is Rasmus Andersson at #24, next up Andrew Mangiapane at #31. Dillon Dube is at #52 with very little chance of climbing.

For goals … Backlund at 9th, Mangiapane 23rd, Blake Coleman at 51st, Dube 57th and Nazem Kadri 61st.

For assists … Backlund at 7th, Andersson 31st, Mangiapane 46th, Dube 69th, and Kadri 74th.

Points … Backlund 7th, Mangiapane 35th, Andersson 37th, Dube 61st, Coleman 67th and Kadri 69th.

Penalty minutes … Backlund 26th, Andersson 66th, Coleman 81st, Mangiapane 86th.

Imagine in two years if Backlund retires, and both of Mangipane and Andersson or moved out when their contracts are nearing expiry?

Competing Going Forward

This may not get better.

I don’t sense a team that isn’t showing up.

I see a team that is completely outclassed. Now the opponents in the last three blow outs are the NHL elite, so there’s that. Maybe the Flames can have close games and hang with the bottom third of the league, but not sure I see a lot of success in the final 17 games against the top 2/3 of the league.

Looking ahead I see about eight games in the final 17 against teams they may be able to beat.

Hope so.

I like a solid draft position as much as anyone, but this is soul sucking.

David Vladar’s Start

Feel for the guy.

He holds the fort in the first period giving up only one goal with an expected total of 1.63 against.

Then the second period he gives up five on an expected total of 1.23.

Overall a rough night again, but then I don’t know if any goalie in the planet is going to have a good night in front of a team that is this out of sorts.

Wolf has an easy period to mop up with the Avs generating only 0.16 in expected goals.

Game Flow

Not the start you are looking for if you’re struggling club with a depleted roster from transactions, illness and injury. Martin Pospisil takes an early minor and Rantanen converts a rebound quickly and it’s 1-0 Colorado. The Flames tie it up quickly with Daniil Miromanov scoring his first goal as a Flame, a rocket from the point that goes off an Avalanche stick. Game tied at one. Calgary makes it 2-1 on a broken neutral zone play that turned into a three on one. Huberdeau’s pass to Sharangovich is blocked, but Duehr picks up the loose change. Calgary leads 2-1 after one, the goaltending disparity the entire story.

Dan Vladar had the Flames up through 20 minutes. But every dam eventually breaks and so did this one with three straight Avalanche goals in the first half of the second period (Manson, Mackinnon and Nichushkin) to honestly put the scoreboard where it probably always should have been. The Flames push back and have some chances to get back into the game but the Avalanche add two more to pretty much put it away. Flames down 6-2 after two, Dan Vladar shell shocked.

For the third, no scoring with the Flames showing some pride and playing a back and forth period against a team clearly just playing out the 20 minutes to take the easy win. Flames lose 6-2, their third straight blowout loss. We wanted this. We got it.

Odds and Sods

So much for the pregame skate setting lines. Andrew Mangiapane not feeling well and was a late scratch. He was joined by Andrei Kuzmenko, who is out with an upper body injury. Calgary dresses new Flame Nikita Okhotiuk in his first appearance in a Flames uniform. So 11 forwards and 7 defensemen to take on a powerhouse. … Took Martin Pospisil all of 30 seconds to reestablish his pest role after sitting for three games with a suspension. Late slash to the Avs’ goaltender and a two minute penalty. … Said it after his first game, Daniil Miromanov moves the puck too deliberately. There is zero camouflage as to his intentions. Not sure he should be QBing a powerplay with that skill not developed. I guess a team in a rebuild is the time to learn. Scored a goal though! Guess I’m not alone, as Hrudey mentioned the Flames wanting him to play with more pace. Adds up to what I’m seeing. … One thing I will say about the player; pucks to the net. Everything on net, which is a solid trait. … Thought Nazem Kadri had one of those “not going to pass unless I have to” nights that was frustrating to watch last season. Wondering if he feels more pressure to be the man with all the bodies shipped out of Calgary. Not using his teammates at all. … Will be interesting to see who gets the start against Vegas on Thursday with Wolf mopping up the third period tonight.

Special Teams

Seven powerplays, four for the Avalanche and they score the only goal to take the special teams battle tonight.

Vladar was solid early or it could have been much worse.

Not much in this game went Calgary’s way, special teams among them.

Standings and Record

The Knights, holding down the final playoff spot didn’t play tonight so they are still eight points up on the Flames but now have a game in hand.

The two teams play on Thursday of course, turn it into 10 points with a game in hand and I think even the most stubborn of onlookers will see the season is over.

The real race, for playoff positioning is very much going Calgary’s way with the Flames sitting 11th but with three teams within a game of the Flames and the 8th spot overall.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 27 Avalanche 38
Face Offs: Flames 37% / Avalanche 63%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Avalanche 1-4

Fancy Stats

Mixed bag of stats five on five in this one. The Avalanche held a huge territorial advantage, but they also took chances and created high danger transitory plays against. Five on five the Flames had 45% of the shot attempts with period splits of 32%/49% and 63% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 42%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 56%, with a 9-7 split.

In all situations the Flames had 44% of the shot attempts, 38% of the expected goals, and 53% of the high danger splits. The all situations expected goal totals came out at 3.02 to 1.87.

Individually the Flames were led by Jonathan Huberdeau posting a xGF% of 68% five on five. Daniil Miromanov with another solid underlying game had 68% as well. Yegor Sharangovich and Nazem Kadri were also in the 60s. Five players finished under 20%; Matt Coronato, Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Walker Duehr and Rasmus Andersson.

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