The NHL has three games up on the board for Wednesday night, where multiple teams will look to even up a series. One of those matchups will be between the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have jumped out to an impressive 2-1 series lead, which means the Flames will need to steal one on the road if they want to even up the series. This game is set to start at around 10:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
Calgary finished the regular season with a record of 50-25-7, which put them in the top spot in the Western Conference and Pacific Division. The Flames struggled a little coming into the playoffs, losing their last two games of the regular season. Calgary bounced back with a big Game 1 win, but lost the next two. The Flames will look to even up the series with a road victory on Wednesday night.
The Avalanche were able to sneak into the playoffs with a record of 38-30-14, which made them the worst playoff team pointwise. Colorado finished out the season really strong though, winning eight of their last eleven games. The Avalanche have carried a little bit of that momentum into the playoffs as they have jumped out to a series lead. Colorado will look to grab a greater lead with a win at home.
Wednesday night’s Game 3 between the Flames and the Avalanche should be a good matchup. Both teams have looked good and bad at points throughout the series. After Calgary swept the regular season series with Colorado, they have found themselves in a small hole later in the season. The Flames will look to erase that deficit with a win.
Game 1 of this playoff series was hosted by Calgary on April 11. The Flames defense put up an impressive performance to help earn the victory. Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals, while Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane both added a goal. Mike Smith turned away all 26 shots he faced to give Calgary the 4-0 win at home.
The second game of this playoff series was much more even. Matthew Nieto opened the scoring in the second period for the Avalanche, but was matched by a goal from Rasmus Andersson before the period closed. Sean Monahan gave the Flames the lead, but it was J.T. Compher who tied it up in the late stages of the game to send it to overtime, where Nathan MacKinnon won it. Mike Smith turned away 36 of 39 shots, but Philipp Grubauer gave his team the 3-2 win by stopping 35 of 37 shots.
The third game of the series shifted back to Colorado on April 15. Sam Bennett and T.J. Brodie each scored a goal for the Flames, but it was not enough. Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist, while Erik Johnson, Matthew Nieto and Mikko Rantanen each tallied a goal and an assist. Philip Grubauer turned away 27 shots on 29 shots to help propel the Avalanche to a 6-2 victory.
After taking Game 1 in impressive fashion, the Flames have not been able to regain their footing. Colorado has outshot Calgary in both games, including Game 3’s 56-29 shot count in favor of the Avalanche. The Flames will need to tighten up their defense if they want to bounce back and tie up this series on Wednesday night.
Top Playoff Performers
Sam Bennet is currently leading all Calgary players in points so far this playoff run. Bennet has a goal and three assists in three games. Rasmus Andersson and Mikael Backlund both have a goal and two assists for the Flames. After finishing with 99 points and 82 points respectively, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have not been able to get it going in the playoffs, combining for a total of three points. They will need to step up if the Flames are going to come back.
After getting shutout in Game 1, the top Avalanche players have been able to bounce back. Nathan MacKinnon has scored three goals and added an assist in the last two games, while Mikko Rantanen has a goal and three assists. Matthew Nieto has two goals and an assist, while Ian Cole has registered three assists. Colorado’s top line has been getting it going, which makes them hard to stop.
The big difference between these two teams in the last two games, is that Colorado’s top line has been playing really well, while the Flames top line has not been playing to their potential. Calgary will likely come out with a new plan or lineup in Game 4 to try and shake things up to get their top players back into the mix, while slowing down the Avalanche.
Mike Smith got the start in this playoff series, which surprised some people. The veteran goaltender finished the regular season with a .898 save percentage and a GAA of 2.72. In the first three games of this series, Smith has put up a save percentage of .926 and a 2.87 GAA. Smith has been playing really well, but has not gotten the help needed from his defense.
After leading the Avalanche in their strong finish to the season, Philipp Grubauer grabbed the starting goaltender job to open the playoffs. Grubauer finished the regular season with a save percentage of .917 and a GAA of 2.64. Through three playoff games, he has a .928 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA. Grubauer has been doing really well and he will look to keep it going with a win to finish out their back to back home games.
Both goalies have done well through the first three games of this series, but Grubauer has earned the edge. If Calgary’s defense can give Smith the help he needs though, I believe that Smith could help steal another game on the road. The Flames are going to make adjustments after allowing 56 shots in their last meeting and I believe they will come out quickly because of it.
The Flames are the top seed in the Western Conference, but they find themselves in a 2-1 deficit. Calgary has been great at bouncing back all season and I believe they do so again on Wednesday night. The Flames got blown out in Game 3 and that will only add onto the motivation to prove why they finished on top of the West at the end of the season.
BetOnline has Calgary listed as a -110 against the money line. With how the Flames have played in their last two games, it is understandable why they are only slight favorites. I really like Calgary to bounce back in this game though and with being only a small favorite, I believe there is a lot of value there. I am taking the Flames on the road.