How a week can change things.
Last week when the Flames and Sharks met met the Flames were struggling, having lost 3 in a row and 6 of their last 7, and were coming off that emotional overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Meanwhile the Sharks were in the middle of a winning streak, having won 3 in a row on their way into Calgary.
Fast forward to tonight. The Sharks have lost 2 in a row and were shut out in both games. The Flames on the other hand have won 3 in a row, having most recently beaten the Chicago Blackhawks in a close, hard fought game that ended in a 5-4 OT win.
Tonight the Flames were able to continue their hot streak while adding to the woes of the Sharks. A hard fought game by both teams, the Sharks just couldn’t beat Ramo in the early going and then seemed to run out of gas in the third period. The Flames played a solid defensive game in front of Ramo and were able to move the puck out of their zone well. Bounces finally seemed to start going the Flames way and they were able to come away with a 4-1 victory over the Sharks.
Mikael Backlund was the biggest difference maker tonight. Not only did Backlund drive the play offensively tonight, which lead to the primary assists on the first 2 goals, he also got numerous chances and won 12 of 18 face-offs. Backlund’s confidence is sky high right now and it’s showing in his game.
On the back-end Mark Giordano was a beast again tonight. The Flames captain has taken his game to another level this season and tonight was no different. He lead all players in ice time tonight with 25:02 and scored the game winning goal in the second period.
I also have to give some love to Karri Ramo. He wasn’t spectacular, but he made the saves he needed to make and made some big saves at key moments to keep the momentum on the Flames side.
Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne continue to show some good chemistry together, with Colborne setting up Monahan for the 3-1 goal.
T.J. Brodie is turning into a big minute eating defenseman logging 23:42 tonight, second most ice time for any player for either team tonight.
Lance Bouma was his usual feisty self, throwing his body into shooting lanes and finishing his checks.
What more can you say about Mikael Backlund’s game? The guy is turning into a solid two-way center and a leader for this club.
Draft Implications / Scoreboard
Toronto beat Florida 6-3 and Buffalo beat Phoenix 3-2. With the Flames win they stand pat in 28th place, only 2 points behind the Panthers for 27th and 3 behind the Islanders for 26th. The Oilers are still in 29th with 42 points and the Sabers are 30th with 38 points. The Flames also have 2 games in hand on both the Oilers and the Islanders.
I think Bob Hartley deserves a lot of praise for the progression of Calgary’s young players. On October 30th Bob Hartley made a rather unpopular decision to make Mikael Backlund a healthy scratch, stating that while Backlund had been playing a very good defensive game, he wanted to see more from the kid offensively. The unpopular decision turned out to be the right one as Backlund has become one of Calgary’s best forwards… Speaking of Backlund, with Mike Cammalleri coming back does the coaching staff remove the ‘A’ from Backlund’s jersey? It would be an absolute shame if they did because he has been playing some inspired hockey as of late… I’m starting to think that it doesn’t matter who Sean Monahan plays with, he seems to have chemistry with everyone he has played with… There are just so many bodies on the roster right now, it’s a shame that the Olympic Break is probably going to delay any potential trades. The Flames could probably do with clearing out a forward or 2 sooner rather than later… I thought the whole point of bringing Chris Breen up was to see what he can do? He definitely can’t show off his stuff from the press box and if he sits for too long he will end up in the same situation he was earlier in the season… Lee Stempniak is a funny player. He had 1 point in 17 games and now has 2 goals and 6 assists in his last 8 games but I couldn’t tell you what he is doing differently. He just seems to be getting more puck luck these days…
The Flames sent Blair Jones back down to the Heat to make room on the roster for Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri didn’t draw back into the line-up however, so taking Jones’ spot in the line-up was Ben Street.
Where Do They Go From Here?
The Flames finish off their home stand Saturday night when the Minnesota Wild head to town, 8pm start time. Then the Flames head on the road for a 3 game swing along the east coast with stops in Montreal on the 4th, New York (Islanders) on the 6th, and Philadelphia on the 8th before enjoying 18 days off for the Olympic break.