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Five Keys to the Flames Winning Game 2

How Calgary can take an important 2-0 series lead

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche will meet for Game 2 of their best of seven series tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary will try to grab a 2-0 series lead on home ice after a 4-0 victory on Thursday night. You can read our game preview here.

Here are five keys to the Flames winning Game 2:

1. More From the Top Line

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

While they weren’t bad by any stretch in Game 1, the top line did fail to put up any points outside of a powerplay assist for Elias Lindholm. Luckily Calgary’s depth shone through along with some great defensive play. While the Flames have clearly proven this year that they can win even if their top guys aren’t going, having the top line clicking would make the team virtually unstoppable. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them have a big night tonight.

2. Stay on Mackinnon/Top Line

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames and the 3M line specifically did a marvelous job in shutting down Nathan Mackinnon on Thursday. The Avalanche are now considering reuniting their top line from earlier in the year by adding Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog to his wings. We know that Colorado is an extremely top heavy team, so if Calgary can shut down the Avs top line, they should be able to take advantage of the other matchups. Of course Calgary won’t be able to line match as well when the series shifts back to Colorado, so tonight is crucial.

3. Play Tough but Play Smart

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 had a fair bit of rough stuff, especially as the game carried on and the Flames started to cement their victory. The key for tonight’s game will be walking that line of pushing back in the scrums, but not letting it become the focal point of the game. Luckily the Flames and Matthew Tkachuk in particular have been very good at walking that line this year. Calgary also racked up a season high 36 hits in Game 1 with Garnet Hathaway (7 hits) leading the way even guys like Elias Lindholm (5 hits) getting in on the action. Keep playing the body and frustrating Colorado.

4. Stay Out of the Box

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary had five powerplay opportunities to Colorado’s four in Game 1. Luckily the Flames were able to shake off some late season struggles on both the PP and PK. However we saw some glimpses of the high powered Avalanche powerplay who finished 7th in the regular season, so avoiding the box will be huge tonight. At even strength the Flames did a strong job of limiting Colorado’s high danger chances, so if they can also limit their time on the man advantage, Calgary will be in a good position.

5. More Mike Smith

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

I think it’s very safe to say that nobody saw Mike Smith’s Game 1 performance coming. Even the most avid Smith supporter likely didn’t expect that. He made a number of spectacular saves and even picked up an assist. While he’ll probably get scored on tonight, another reliable performance should put Calgary in a very good position. Let’s go Smitty!