The Colorado Avalanche have eliminated the Calgary Flames in the first-round series of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. Once again, the regular season meant absolutely nothing, as the eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche steamrolled past the Calgary Flames in just five games. The Avalanche won deservedly and now they look forward to the second-round. They will have to wait at least one more day to know their next opponent. On the other side, the Flames are left searching for answers.
— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) 20. apríla 2019
Colorado Avalanche Steamroll Past Calgary Flames in Short Series
No one expected this series to be that short and in favor of the number eight seed in the Western Conference. In our series preview, I picked the Avalanche to go through in six games. That prediction was both correct and incorrect at the same time. As mentioned in the series preview, the Avalanche could become a mile-high problem for the Flames. And it just turned out to be that way.
The Flames started the series on a high note. Calgary won Game 1 in a 4-0 fashion and by that time, their confidence was sky-high. Head coach Bill Peters, surprisingly, chose goaltender Mike Smith to be the number-one goalkeeper. Remember, in the regular season Smith failed to have a save percentage above .900. Smith was the best player for the Flames, as the questioned veteran netminder responded in a huge way. All of his teammates just went off. But not completely. Give a ton of credit to the Avalanche as well.
The Avalanche´s best players played their very best. Except for that Game 1 miserable efficiency in the offence, the Avalanche were playing with tremendous speed, energy, and confidence. They have been resilient as well. It was not easy for them to drop Game 1 in that fashion. Even though the scoreboard would indicate the Flames dominated that game, it wasn’t there. Yes, Calgary played solidly, but it was also about Colorado missing their chances and allowing their opponents to strike in the key moments. But the Av’s learned from that game as they won four straight games following that Game 1 loss.
Colorado´s Resiliency Against Calgary Decisive in Battle Of Two Inexperienced Teams
As highlighted in our series preview, this one was a battle of two inexperienced teams going against each other. The Av’s had to wait for their first playoff series win in 11 years, but they finally got it done on Friday. On the other hand, the Flames remember just one playoff series win since 2004, and that was five years back in the first-round series versus the Vancouver Canucks.
Before this series, the betting was rather clear. The Flames won the Western Conference with 107 points, while Colorado narrowly pushed over the playoff line for the second wild-card spot with 90 points. The battle between two teams with practically no playoff experience had to be decided in a different way. It was more about one team showing at the right moment. In Game 2, the Flames had a 2-1 lead with less than three minutes to go in the third frame. The Av’s tied it up and won it in overtime.
In Game 3, the Avalanche just completely ran over the Flames with a 6-2 win. However, there was still time left for Calgary to respond. They did, at least it seemed that way. They had a 2-0 lead in the third period of Game 4. The resiliency of the Avalanche appeared again as they tied the game at two. It was Mikko Rantanen, who scored a power-play goal to tie it up with less than three minutes to go. By that time, the Av’s were just 2-for-18 on the power play. But in the key moment, they struck. In overtime, Rantanen won the game.
Calgary scored a power-play tally in each of the first four games in the series. They had a power play in both overtimes of the series. They didn’t score and the Av’s came right back to bury them. The power play was on the side of Calgary. But in the key moments… the Avalanche owned the Flames in the decisive part of all games.
Colorado Avalanche Top Line Outshined the Flames Top Guys
The Flames had a good power play, but it failed in the most important situations. Talking about squandering the third period lead in Game 2 and Game 4. The Flames scored the most goals in the third period in the regular season. They were the best third-period team in the regular season. Did it show up in the playoffs against the Avs? Absolutely not.
Calgary also had a very large group of talented guys producing. Sean Monahan had 82 points, Johnny Gaudreau had a shiny 99 points, Elias Lindholm ended the regular season with 78 points and Matthew Tkachuk with 77 points. Where were those guys? Gaudreau had one single point for an assist, in Game 5, he missed a point-blank breakaway, missed a penalty shot and had a goal disallowed. He just could not buy a goal. Lindholm had just one goal and an assist, same as Monahan. Tkachuk got two tallies in Game 1 but since then just one assist.
The Flames top four point-getters in the regular season combined for only eight points. Mikko Rantanen had nine points himself. Rantanen missed the last eight contests of the regular season and was rusty in Game 1. He has still done more than Monahan, Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Tkachuk combined. And by the way, Nathan MacKinnon had three goals and five assists for eight points. The captain Gabriel Landeskog had one goal and three assists for four points.
Probably the main reason why the Avalanche steamrolled past Calgary was such a huge difference between the two top units facing each other.
Colorado Avalanche Defeated Calgary Flames in Five Games
Not many people expected it, but we warned you this Avalanche team can lay down heavy troubles for the Flames. Game 4 with a 2-0 lead for the Flames was just the perfect example. After Derek Ryan scored to make it 2-0 after the weakest goal given up by Philipp Grubauer (overall, Grubauer has been tremendous) in the series, the Avs were never in doubt. They reacted immediately with J.T. Compher´s goal.
Pepsi Center in Denver has been buzzing since that goal and when the Avalanche got a power play late, they knew what to do. And it was MacKinnon beautifully setting up Rantanen to even the game up. In overtime, Grubauer made a thrilling left-pad stop on Mikael Backlund and the Av’s killed a penalty. Right after that, on the rush Landeskog found Carl Soderberg, who set up Rantanen for a deadly snipe to win Game 4. How big was that comeback for the Av’s?
In Game 5, they dominated from the start to the finish as that´s the best way to finish off the playoff series. The Flames had no energy left as they lost 5-1. It seems that there is still more to come from Colorado. Calgary has just two things to be happy about – Mike Smith, who will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, and hopefully, a tough playoff lesson learned by the young core of talented and skilled players.