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There are a lot of ways to arrive at the final result in a hockey game. Every night during the opening moments of a broadcast, the production crew puts up fancy graphics and stats to illustrate the ways each team is set to succeed or fail and call them the Keys to the Game. To figure out how to the Avs and Flames reached their final result of 3-2 in favor of Calgary, let's look at the keys to this game and see how the teams stacked up.
Keys to the Game:
Shoot the puck - Sounds basic, right? Unfortunately, this has been a consistent issue with the Avalanche all season and both Colorado and Calgary sit in the bottom five of Corsi percentage for at even strength, meaning each team watches the opposing team direct more pucks at their net than they shoot at the opponent's. Tonight's final tally saw the Avalanche put 27 shots on net to Calgary's 26, with their 5-on5 Corsi-For finished at 56-53, also in favor of Colorado. In this area, both teams succeeded in putting a decent amount of pucks towards the opponent's net while not allowing much separation from the other team. Even scoring chances were close as Colorado edged Calgary, 21-19. Advantage: Even
Win Special Teams Battle - In a mostly clean and non-physical game by both teams, the Avs finished 0-for-3 on the Power Play while Calgary went just 0-for-1. While not a significant failure by either team's PP unit, the Avs' failure all season with the man advantage reared its ugly head again in this one as 3 opportunities passed them by. In a game the Avs lost by 1 goal, the 5 minutes spend playing 5-on-4 certainly stands out as a missed opportunity. Advantage: Calgary
Slow Calgary's Transition Game - The Flames are a high-flying team that relies heavily on stretch passes and goals in transition because they aren't particularly adept at scoring in the heavily slowed down cycle game. Watching the first Flames goal as they flew down the ice and former-Av David Jones scored on a 2-on-1, it's easy to see this as an overall failure despite otherwise limiting the Flames' chances on the rush. Advantage: Calgary
Varly Being Varly - Over the last two seasons, Avs fans have come to expect greatness on a near-nightly basis from their star goaltender. After finishing as a runner-up in the Vezina Trophy voting last season as the NHL's top goaltender, Semyon Varlamov has again put up stellar numbers as his save .923 save percentage ranks him as a top-10 starting goalie in the league once again. However, Varly was just a touch off his regular pace as he gave up 3 goals on 26 shots. The Avalanche simply have not been good enough this season to find ways to win when Varlamov has been a sub-.900 goalie in a game. While none of the goals were really Varlamov's fault, the team just wasn't able to overcome his lack of brilliance tonight. Advantage: Calgary
Score More Goals - Easy, right? Unfortunately, the Avs recent ability to overcome the long odds and stare improbability in the face caught up with them on this night as the spirited effort in the final moments of the game weren't enough. The 3-2 loss for the Avalanche puts them realistically out of the playoff race for good, a death knell for what has been an admirable fight back to relevancy for this feisty Avalanche squad. Advantage: Calgary
While there were certainly positives to draw from tonight's performance (the team's refusal to quit yet again, Joey Hishon's play chief among them), moral victories don't get you into the playoffs. In what is likely to be a lost season for the Avalanche, it would seem moral victories are all the team has left to gain as their final ten games will see them shift to spoiler role with their upcoming schedule featuring several teams very much still in the playoff race.