Those are the point totals for the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames top lines respectively during the regular season. The excitement over these two lines matching up, even if not on the ice at the same time, was off the charts as this series began. Gaudreau. MacKinnon. Monahan. Landeskog. Linholm. Rantanen. And......<fart nosie>
Only one of these trio’s has showed up and made an impact on the ice and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know it’s not the boys from Calgary.
After falling to the Flames in Game 1 by the score of 4-0, Colorado regrouped and their top line has carried them to three straight wins. Nathan MacKinnon has been toying with the Flames for the last three games, scoring an OT winner in Game 2, scoring twice and getting a helper in Game 3 and getting an assist on the game tying goal last night. If you’re scoring at home that’s five points in three games. Mikko Rantanen started this series off on a different line, but since being reunited with his line mates he’s done some significant damage. He had two assists in Game 2, a goal and an assist in Game 3 and two goals in Game 4, including the game tying and game winning goals. That’s six points in three games. Gabriel Landeskog has been the “quiet” player on that line with “only” three assists in the Av’s three straight victories. Add it up and it gives Colorado’s top trio 14 points in three games and not surprisingly the Avalanche now hold a 3-1 lead over the Flames.
The Flames top trio has been laughable in this series so far. For a chunk of the second half of the season Calgary was being carried by their Bottom Six. Yes, secondary scoring is important, but in the playoffs you NEED your top guns to show up and Monahan, Gaudreau and Lindholm (and Matthew Tkachuk) have disappeared. Sean Monahan (is he hurt??) hasn’t done much of anything. He has one goal and one assist in four games. Johnny Gaudreau looks lost on the ice and Colorado is making his life miserable. The guy who scored at will during the regular season has one lonely assist so far. Elias Lindholm hasn’t been anything to write home about either. He has two points so far and his biggest contribution was his five hits in Game 1.
Is the sky falling.....maybe. Calgary is in a massive 3-1 hole that they don’t appear to be too concerned with getting out of. The defense has allowed 108 shots in the last two games and the Av’s have to smell the blood in the water. Remember when the knock on the Avalanche was that they “only had one line?” Well that one line is doing serious damage right now and after the opener in this series, the Flames have had ZERO answers for MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen. Colorado meanwhile seems to have all the answers for Calgary’s top guns and Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm aren’t showing any sense of urgency to get it going.
The Flames have had many other issues in this series beides the top line being a no show, but we aren’t going to sugar coat it here. That’s the threesome that lit up the NHL during the regular season and was expected to be a dominant force in the playoffs, but apparently we were wrong so far. Are the Flames top guns going to be like the Tampa Bay Lightning: peak in the regular season and then crap the bed in the playoffs? The fan in us says “no,” but our eyes are telling us all we need to know. Colorado’s three best players are for real and Calgary’s three best look like cardboard cut outs on the ice.