G3 Calgary Flames vs Winnipeg Jets: Looking to rebound
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Five things to watch when the Calgary Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3:
Calgary’s top line. Aided by some good work on the power play, I thought the Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm unit played fairly well in G1. I can’t say the same about G2. They really didn’t muster up much of anything at 5v5. The lone bright spot was Lindholm sniping one by Connor Hellebuyck after being handed a pizza by Nik Ehlers. I know it is a tight checking series but the Flames don’t have much depth to pick up the slack when the top line isn’t scoring. They *have* to produce, which is not likely to happen with the way they’re playing. The three of them have combined for six total scoring chances and created zero (0) high-danger looks of their own. They have to be better today or the Flames will likely find themselves in a 2-1 hole.
Shaking things up. I know Geoff Ward is pretty attached to the lines he has in place but he really needs to consider making some changes – if not now, then in-game (if necessary). I think Monahan, in particular, has looked like a fish out of water on the top line. If that continues, I’d move Lindholm to center and drop Monahan down the lineup. I also think Zac Rinaldo should be taken out. He has played just over seven minutes in two games. Shot attempts are 12-3 Jets in that time and they’re also up 1-0 on the scoreboard. He has no business seeing the ice unless the game is 3-4 goals out of hand one way or the other. I would much rather insert Austin Czarnik into the lineup.
Special teams. They are absolutely imperative with the way this series is shaping up. Approximately 34% of the time has been spent with a team on the man advantage. That’s a hair more than a full period per game. Insane. Calgary’s penalty kill has mostly been good but the power play has had some struggles. If they can work out the kinks, and have both specialist units winning the battle, they’re going to be in really good shape. Winnipeg had a tough time getting things done at 5v5 with a full lineup and those issues are only amplified without Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine.
Getting to the paint. Connor Hellebuyck is one of the best goaltenders in the league. You can make a case he is *the* best this season. It takes shots from very dangerous areas, or loads of traffic, to beat him with any sort of regularity. The Flames aren’t generating Grade A looks – they’ve been credited with five(!) high-danger chances at 5v5 through two games – and there isn’t enough havoc being created around the net. Winnipeg evidently is not a team you’re going to get running around out of position. They’re not going to bite on dekes and get pulled out of their structure. The Flames are going to have to get off the perimeter and simply drive bodies/pucks to the net. Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett, in particular, have done a good job of getting to those areas. They need the rest of the team to follow their lead.
Rasmus Andersson’s ice time. I think Andersson has played very well thus far. He looks like one of the team’s best defenders, if not players. He ranks 5th on the blueline in time on ice at 5v5 and overall. I’m sorry but Erik Gustafsson has no business playing more than Andersson at 5v5, and Derek Forbort most definitely has no business playing more than Andersson across all gamestates. Play your best players.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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