Flames Must Melt Avalanche

Mikael Backlund #11 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his third period goal against goalie Peter Budaj #31 of the Colorado Avalanche. Backlund must continue his elevated play of late if the Flames hope to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Game Preview #73

 

Always the optimist, I am one of the few out there that still believes the Flames hold their destiny in their hands, although the road to the playoffs has now narrowed to just two or three possible paths at this point.

My road map to the playoffs for the Flames at this point rests on winning the five games they have remaining against the Oilers (2), the Avs (2) and the Blues (1), plus what I consider the two biggest games left in the season; the two against the Ducks. Add that all up and you have 14 points for a total of 95 points; throw a bonus win in there somewhere and the Flames are in. A little probability calculation on the competition’s remaining schedule and that should be enough--by a whisker.

Therefore this game is a must win by my road map. All seven of those aforementioned games are must wins for me. I see a loss anywhere in those seven games, and that will take things out of the Flames' control and with it, my optimism.

I hate spoiler games and the Avs should be well motivated to come hard at an injury-ridden Flames team that embarrassed them 9-1 in their last meeting, so I don’t expect a walk in the park.

The Stat Rack

Flames

Rank

 

Rank

Avalanche

18.2%

11th

PP%

10th  

18.5%

81.9%

18th

PK%

29th

77.0%

2.79

16th

GA

30th

3.51

2.90

7th

GF

15th  

2.75

48.2%

24th

FO%

20th  

49.9%

 

Number Crunch

By the numbers, the edge goes to the Flames in virtually every category except face-offs and a slight edge on the PP. The Avs are currently on a bad slide with five straight regulation losses. Even more grim for them is their record in their last ten games--1-8-1.

 

Alive in the Last Five

Flames

Mikael Backlund 2G, 0A, -1 in his last 2GP

Avalanche

David Jones 1G, 3A,  +1 in his last 5 GP

 

Anticipated Roster (subject to change by game time)

The Flames

The Avalanche

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanguay

Backlund

Iginla

O'Reilly

Stastny

Jones

Bourque

Jokinen

Kotalik

Winnik

Duchene

Olver

Glencross

Stajan

Kostopoulos

Porter

McClement

Mcleod

Hagman

Bouma

Jackman

Holos

Dupuis

Yip

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regehr

Bouwmeester

 

O'Byrne

Liles

 

Giordano

Sarich

 

Johnson

Wilson

 

Staios

Babchuk

 

Hunwick

Foote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiprusoff

Karlsson

 

Budaj

Elliot

 

 

Anticipated Game Style

The Flames need to recover from three straight losses. I am not going to make any apologies for my homer comments here. I expect the Flames to dominate this particular game. The Avs are the ideal team to rejuvenate the Flames in a game they MUST win.

A loss here and the Fat Lady will be clearing her throat. It is too early to call this a spoiler but if the Flames can’t pull out a convincing win now against the Avs, why would you expect them to do so in their remaining nine games after?

 

One on One

Ales Kotalik vs Erik Johnson

Kotalik should draw the young Johnson in this match-up. If I see Kotalik playing with passion I will be much more optimistic on the Flames chances.  If Johnson or any of the Avs D for that matter shuts out a disinterested Kotalik it will be prophetic. Kotalik doesn't have to score but he does have to play with intensity, so he is my one on one to watch.  

 

The Magic 8-Ball

The Avs season is over and the Flames will be too if they lose. Can’t make it anymore straightforward.  

The Flames should take this one with a statement win but I am sure the Avs won’t make it easy.

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