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Five observations from Calgary vs Colorado:
1. Flames were vastly outplayed
They did not bring their 'A' game to the table. Hell, they didn't even bring their 'B' or 'C' game. They were not very good. It didn't start that way – the Flames were pretty quick out of the gate – but they fell into a rut and weren't really able to get out of it. Much like the game in Philadelphia, another they probably won undeservedly, they were just off. The passing was sloppy, the breakouts weren't crisp, and they spent a lot of time on their heels as opposed to on their toes. It was a really poor showing, especially when you consider the Avalanche were in a road back-to-back.
Calgary – like most good teams – has shown the ability to win when they aren't on their game. They shouldn't make a habit of having to do that, though.
2. Line matching was not optimal
One of the biggest benefits of playing at home is last change. Bill Peters didn't take full advantage of it last night. When the 3M line was out there against Colorado's star trio, they managed to tread water. They finished a little below 50% in terms of possession and didn't get burned on the scoreboard. Despite that, Peters somewhat loosely matched vs COL1. 3M saw the majority of them, of course, but Calgary's top line still went head-to-head for 5-6 minutes. It did not end well.
Beyond getting caved in on the shot clock, Gaudreau and co. also lost on the scoreboard. I understand Peters has confidence in his top line against anybody but that doesn't mean using them, as opposed to the high-end defensive players featured on 3M, vs truly elite offensive players is optimal. This was a perfect example.
3. Calgary's top line was invisible
Further to my last point, the top line was horrendous. They spent a lot of time in the defensive zone. When they did manage to get the puck up ice, their in-zone passing was mostly poor. On the one play they really connected on, Elias Lindholm hit the post. Other than that, they didn't generate much. They combined for three 5v5 chances and four overall. In comparison, Colorado's top line combined for 15 5v5 chances and 24(!) overall. This was a rare case where Calgary's top line was outplayed. And it wasn't even close.
4. David Rittich was excellent
The Avalanche really tested Rittich from start to finish and, once again, he was up to the challenge. He was peppered with chances – a lot of which came from Colorado's top trio – and consistently turned them aside while looking very comfortable in the process. The 3rd goal he allowed certainly should not have beaten him, however, if there is a time to allow a softy, it is with 30 seconds left in a game you're leading by multiple goals. I thought he was very good and the biggest reason the Flames walked away with two points. I mean, the goaltender deserves a lot of credit any time a team with 16 shots on goal wins.
5. Michael Frolik made the most of his minutes
Frolik was given an opportunity alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund on the 2nd line. He certainly took advantage of it. He caused havoc on the forecheck, lived around the net, scored a goal, and finished tied with Mark Jankowski for the team lead (4) in scoring chances. If that doesn't earn him another game in the top-6, I don't know what will.
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