In between road trips, the Calgary Flames made a quick one game stop in Alberta to take on the visiting Colorado Avalanche. With only two points separating the teams in the Western Conference standings, these types of games become even more crucial. Colorado held two games in hand on the Flames entering Saturday afternoon’s contest, which put an immense amount of pressure on the home team to come out with the victory.
Unlike past games, the Flames were the better team coming out of the gate, with Michael Frolik scoring only 18 seconds into the game. The Flames would build upon that lead a short while later, with Mark Giordano scoring on a beautiful set up from the 3M line. Calgary took the lead early and never looked back, completing a dominant 5-1 home ice victory.
Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Troy Brouwer also netted goals for the Flames, with the latter two forwards earning multi-point games as well. The 3M line looked to regain their mojo during the course of this game, completely dominating their opponents on both sides of the ice.
Jon Gillies got his second straight start, and earned his second straight win in the process. Gillies got off to a much better start compared to the Arizona game, stopping the onslaught of Avalanche shots in the opening frame. This included an absolute point blank save on Tyson Barrie. Unfortunately he would allow a freak of nature goal from close to center ice, but would be his only goal against as he rebounded phenomenally to lead his team to victory.
With the victory, combined with a few losses from Pacific Division rivals, the Flames now find themselves back in third place for the time being. After the win yesterday afternoon, the Flames initially jumped into a wild card position, but with an Anaheim Ducks loss they further moved up into third place. The standings are as close as they ever have been, which means teams will need to find some separation in the final month of the season to ensure a playoff spot.
Player of the Game: Jon Gillies. Stopping 27 of 28 shots he faced, Gillies continued his undefeated streak as a starting goaltender.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Frolik paced the Flames last night, posting a game high 64.9% CF%, with linemate Matthew Tkachuk close behind at 63.6%.
- Andrew Mangiapane, fresh off of his Stockton recall, had a very strong outing with a CF% of 60.0%.
- Only four Flames posted a CF% below 50%, with three of those players being the fourth line trio of Curtis Lazar, Matt Stajan, and Brouwer.
- Although he posted a multi-point evening, Brouwer had a disastrous night in terms of possession. He posted a CF% of 28.6% in an even 10:00 of 5v5 ice time.
- Colorado only had five players post +50.0% CF%’s in the game.
- Nathan MacKinnon posted a team, and game, worst CF% of 26.5%
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
John: Yesterday’s matinee was as dominant of an effort that I have seen this season. The Flames were opportunistic in the first period, and then completely smothered Colorado in the final two frames. I would say that this is as close to the team that we expect to see night in and night out.
What was most impressive about the win was that it was done in large part without their two MVP’s this season: Mike Smith and Johnny Gaudreau. Smith of course being “day-to-day” with an injury doesn’t impact this game much, but his replacement in Gillies was outstanding. Gillies is almost looking at management after each save and telling them “not so fast”. With many ready to crown David Rittich and Tyler Parsons the goalies of the future, Gillies has provided the team with two straight wins and a whole bunch of questions. In terms of Gaudreau, his stat-line was virtually non-existent with only 3SOG and 2GVA. Of course, this didn’t impact the team in a negative manner as other players stepped up in his “absence”. I wouldn’t say this team has extraordinary depth, but when they are able to get strong depth performances in dominant wins it sure helps the stars out.
With the deadline approaching rapidly, these past two wins have most likely thrown a wrench in Treliving’s plans. Gillies was looked upon as trade bait a week ago, and is now probably the best chance of earning points in Smith’s absence. With Kris Versteeg expected to make a return in a matter of weeks, it’s now much more intriguing to see what management does at the deadline. Does this team have the roster right now to make a deep run in the playoffs? Who knows. You can always improve your team, but with the prices right now being astronomical, it may be better to just stand pat. With some interesting waiver placements today, such as Chris Stewart, Alex Burrows, and Johnny Oduya, maybe this is the type of inexpensive pickup the Flames could benefit from.
Final unrelated note, Monday’s trade deadline also comes as the deadline for Jarome Iginla to sign an NHL contract for a playoff run. His numbers and foot speed have declined, but the fan in me wants to see him sign a deal with a Stanley Cup contender. Even if he plays a significantly minor role, Iginla deserves at least one more shot at a cup and I am hoping a team recognizes that.
What needs to be fixed? Player Usage.
If you follow us on Twitter (@wincolumnblog), you may have seen a slight outburst yesterday in regards to Brouwer’s deployment on the PP. What was most confusing about the situation was that Michael Stone had just come on to replace Dougie Hamilton during the previous man advantage. During his short PP stint, his point shot was deflected by Monahan to make the game 3-1. Stone is not a fixture on the top unit, but was able to generate a PP goal. The very next PP opportunity, the Flames reverted back to the 4F – 1D configuration, with Brouwer filling in for Hamilton. Regardless of your opinion of Brouwer, this was as questionable a decision as we have seen all season. The 3F – 2D setup had been dynamite the past few games, and Stones substitution led to another goal. It is simply a bad coaching decision to revert back to a PP unit that had struggled mightily. We insist this isn’t a knock on Brouwer, who had somewhat of a strong game, but for the coaching staff to continuously deploy players in situations where a better alternative exists is beyond concerning.
What needs to continue? The 3M Line.
The 3M line is easily one of the best second, if not overall, lines in the entire NHL. Unfortunately, with Frolik missing an extended period of time to injury the simply have not looked the same since his return. Their possession ratings had decreased below their season averages and their offensive game had been lacking a punch as well. Tkachuk has been racking up the points, albeit with the majority coming on the PP. Yesterday, Backlund and Frolik both scored, snapping 12 and 10 game scoreless droughts along the way, respectively. As well, the trio all placed in the top four in terms of CF% in the game. Never really gone, the 3M line appears to be back in full force and just in time for when they are needed the most.
The Flames aren’t back in action until Tuesday evening when they travel to Texas to face the Dallas Stars. Both teams could look slightly, or even drastically, different after the trade deadline has passed. Dallas is hovering slightly around the same number of points as Calgary, but sit in a different division. Should both teams fall out of their respective divisional standings, this game could prove quintessential in determining the final two wildcard spots.