The Five Takeaways: Flames vs. Avs
Five key elements from the Flames-Avs battle
When the Flames hit the ice for their pre-game warm-ups, two notable faces were missing. First of all, the will-he-or-won't-he-play question that was Curtis Glencross was answered. While he did participate in the optional pre-game skate in the morning, he did not dress for warm-ups. The winger is suffering from lower body soreness and is day-to-day. The other forward missing was Matt Stajan. The pivot also took part in the pre-game skate but was absent on Wednesday evening. With the two missing, the Flames coaching staff opted to use seven defenceman and 11 forwards against the Avs.
Down 1-0 despite outshooting the Avs 12-2, the Flames had an unlikely hero come to the rescue. Known more for his playmaking abilities and defensively responsible plays, Roman Horak managed to tie the game - and score his first NHL goal in the process - with an incredible individual effort. After J.S.Giguere stopped Alex Tanguay's initial shot, Horak came steaming in and whacked away at the rebound until it flew over the netminder's glove. He managed to score despite the fact he was sitting on the ice with former Flame Chuck Kobasew trying to shove him out of the way - the epitome of unwavering determination.
While scoring the first of career was great, there was an added bonus. The assists on Horak's equalizer? Tanguay and Jarome Iginla. Talk about a memorable first goal for the youngster.
After much speculation over his possible return to the lineup, defenceman Anton Babchuk dressed for his third game this year. Babchuk has been a healthy scratch for the majority of the campaign - with Derek Smith playing with Cory Sarich on the Flames third defensive pairing - due to the fact the coaching staff has felt he hasn't played within the team structure. Head coach Brent Sutter said he wanted to see the 27 year-old use his howitzer of shot more and he answered back by sending a hard slapper towards net during his first shift.
In 9:36 of ice time, Babchuk had an assist, two hits, one takeaway and two blocked shots. He is now just two points shy of hitting 100 in his career.
The Flames have spoken at great length about firing as many shots on net as they possibly can and they executed that game plan perfectly in the first frame on Wednesday night. By the end of the first period, Calgary had peppered Giguere with 21 shots. In addition to those that landed on net, the Flames had three attempts blocked by the Avs and five shots miss the net.
After 60:00, the Flames had 34 shots on net and 16 attempted shots.
A major issue for the Flames in previous games has been a lack of production from their power play. Despite having nine opportunities with the man advantage in their last two contests, they couldn't find the back of the net.
That trend changed in the second period when Rene Bourque was able to bat a loose puck into the net during the Flames second power play of the night. The goal came after a great passing play that opened up passing lanes, showcasing how successful they can be when their power play tactics are focused around constant movement.