Could this be it?
After two very successful games at The Can in Denver, the Colorado Avalanche have followed the Calgary Flames to Alberta looking to complete a five-game series victory over the Western Conference champions in the regular season.
Over the course of the series, the Avalanche have thoroughly out-played the Flames in all the areas of the game that matter, namely driving offense and getting saves. The Avs have out-shot the Flames in every game that they’ve won, which has been three of them. Over the course of the four games, the Avalanche have thrown 173 pucks at Calgary goalie Mike Smith, an average of 43 a night. By contrast, Philipp Grubauer has only had to face 33 shots each night. Long story short, the Avalanche are dominating and they don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Wednesday night was one of those games that fans in the building and watching on TV will not soon forget. The first half was terrifying and daunting. It felt like the magic was gone. But then the Avalanche hammered a crack in the foundation of the Flames and the floodgates (avalanche gates?) opened. They tied the game late in the third, nearly won it in regulation, and used a chaotic overtime to send the fans home happy.
Now they arrive in Calgary to finish the job.
In terms of lineups, Sam Girard skated in a no-contact jersey before Game 4 and until we see him fully participate in a practice, it’s not likely that we’ll see him on the ice. Luckily, the Avalanche got this kid, you may have heard of him, whose name rhymes with kale.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Derick Brassard - J.T. Compher
Matt Calvert - Tyson Jost - Sven Andrighetto
Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Cale Makar
The Flames have been thoroughly embarrassed this series. They came into the first round boasting one of the best shot differentials in the league. Their defense was locking down their opponents and Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were running rampant. The only weak point was potentially the goaltending in Smith.
Against the Avalanche, however, the story has been all but that. Mike Smith has been posting an impressive .931 save percentage on a high volume of shots while Gaudreau has only been able to muster a single secondary assist through four games. At least Tkachuk has two goals for them, but third-liner Sam Bennett leads the team in scoring with four points in as many games.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - James Neal
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oscar Fantenberg - Rasmus Andersson
There’s no reason for either side to change their netminders. Philipp Grubauer has been a very strong starter for the Avalanche, posting a .933 on 134 shots through four games. Mike Smith on the other side has a similar .931, but on many more shots (173) meaning their goals against are much different (9 for Grubauer, 12 for Smith).