A lot of talk about this failed season centers around a three game road trip to the city of Angels. On this trip the Flame’s GM Jay Feaster talked to three of his core players about the idea of moving after they came up empty in all three attempts.
But to me the season died earlier than that, on their last voyage into Denver when they blew multiple leads and let the young soon to struggle Avalanche come all the way back and beat them in over time.
Fast forward to tonight and you have the league’s two worst teams each playing back up goaltenders and battling both for a better draft pick and pride.
Tonight the pride belongs to the Flames and Joey McDonald as the visitors walk away with a 3-1 win.
The Game Skinny
The Flames win the game with a push back second period, scoring three straight goals after the Avalanche opened the scoring in the second. Joey McDonald was brilliant in stopping 39 of 40 Avalanche shots.
Games that mattered to the Flames;
The Hurricanes continue to tumble with injuries getting blown out by the Bruins, they are in the bottom five and falling fast.
Oilers down to the Ducks as they continue to skid, making their playoff chances less and less likely.
The Panther’s win yesterday helped, but a Flames win against the Avalanche moved the Flames back into the third draft position, and the Avalanche now three points back.
Young Player Barometer
Sven Baertschi returned to the NHL and was noticeable distributing the puck, and mucking it up on the boards. He had a great chance in the first period when he was set up by Alex Tanguay, but finished the night with no points and a -1 in 18 minutes of ice time. He should settle down if he gets close to 20 minutes per night.
Max Reinhart struggled a bit for me tonight. He didn’t have that same presence in the corners, and really had a tough time manhandling the puck whenever it found its way on to his stick. He just doesn’t look ready to me. No shots in 14 plus minutes of ice time and won 31% of his faceoffs (many of those wins late however).
Roman Horak wasn’t a quick after thought in this development report, he was the story. Physical and involved all night, he picked up two second period assists and had other chances. Played bigger, with his head up and move the puck around well all night. Two assists on 15 minutes of ice time and won 45% of his draws.
Mikael Backlund was a little snake bit tonight as he had a career high 7 shots on goal; many of them from a ways out. Two or three good chances though, and played well with Mike Cammalleri later in the contest. Won 36% of his faceoffs and played roughly 15 minutes.
TJ Brodie was once again the new found break out player picking up another 24 minute night as the Flames shortened the blueline side of their bench, going with the youngster, Wideman, Giordano and to a lesser extent Butler. Even with two shots on goal.
With injuries to McGrattan and Hudler, the Flames altered their plan of scratching Roman Cervenka. What’s the opinion on re-signing this guy? They will need bodies next year, but if they are going with youth and development, I just don’t see this guy in their plans. He’s ultra soft and I don’t get the feeling that will get any better. I’d rather have his spot contested by other young players next season. … Hartley went with an interesting line look with the injuries and recalls, balancing out all four lines with veterans, youth, scoring players and pluggers. It was a good look overall as the Flames were consistent line in and line out all night. … So odd watching hockey games when you can make a happy story for a goal for either team. I won’t cheer against the team but losing is a silver lining. … Part of me hopes the Avalanche finish last and the Flames 29th. 1) They Flames can continue to say they’ve never been in that lowly position 2) The Avalanche are more likely to draft Seth Jones leaving the forwards to the Flames and 3) If the Flames feel the same they don’t have to pass on Jones and always wonder if they made the right decision. … Joey McDonald continues to be a story this season. Easily the best backup this team has had since Jamie McLennan, and a guy they should consider bringing back to next season.