The Western Conference's top ranked team was eliminated after just five games, sent by Colorado's eighth-seeded Avalanche, convincingly enough. The Flames' exit follows the sweep of the first head of the East (the Tampa Bay Lightning), marking the first time in NHL history that the top ranked team from each conference was eliminated in the first tower.
On paper, the Flames appeared to be the top team with 107 points in the regular season, tied for second in the league.
Let's take a look at the places where things went wrong for the Flames.
Avs & # 39; top line took over the series
After being blanked by a 4-0 shutout in the first game, Colorado's top talent made banana and took control of the series. Their trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog showed why they had the well-deserved reputation of being one of the most dangerous and explosive lines in hockey.
These three players have dominated the Flames lineup in the last four games, totaling nine goals and 21 points. Rantanen led the series with five goals and nine points, while MacKinnon also scored three times, including a decisive overtime winner in the second game.
To put it simply, these guys were at their best and there was absolutely nothing the Flames could do to stop them. MacKinnon was an incredible facilitator. He dominated.
The first line of the Flames was not found
As mentioned before, the Flames were led by a dangerous forward attack that featured three 30-goal scorers: Johnny Gaudreau (36-63-99), Sean Monahan (34-48-82) and Matthew Tkachuk ( 34-43-77).
However, this offensive attack has been splashed after the victory of the first match. In the past four games, the Flames have scored just seven goals in total and have never scored more than two goals per game.
Gaudreau had one point in the series (an assist in Game 2), although he probably would have scored a goal in Game 5. Monahan performed slightly better, scoring a goal and assisting in the second half. five games, but he was almost invisible the ice for a significant part of the series. This duo has simply become icy at a very untimely time.
It was part of a difficult series for the Flames' Top Six as a whole. The second line started well in the first match, but it was completely completed by the best Colorado talent. In the last four games of the series, Tkachuk finished with an assist and got less than five points, as did Elias Lindholm. Mikael Backlund, meanwhile, had two assists and was less than six.
The defense imploded
At the beginning of this series, I expected the Flames to have some problems to deal with. In the end, I was right … but very bad in predicting where most of these problems would come from.
Everyone who has watched Mike Smith this season is probably concerned that the veteran goalkeeper will be nominated for the Flames at the start of this series. But Smith was actually one of Calgary's best players for much of this series. He was simply suspended by the guys in front of him.
The Flames finished this season as the league's ninth-best defensive unit, losing 28.1 at the lowest point in the league per game. They also most likely won this year's Norris Award in their team at Mark Giordano.
But Calgary's defensive corps simply could not escape in this series and there was a barrage of odds ahead, next to and behind Smith.