February 6th, 2014 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
Reto Berra must have felt a lot like the guy running to the punch clock 15 minutes before the end of his shift.
The Flames goaltender has been a dramatic force for the Flames in overtime and shoot outs this season, but has found zilch in regulation time, at least until tonight. Berra was great early and solid through out as the Flames bested the New York Islanders by a score of 4-2.
Can never figure out whether to put Mikael Backlund in the difference maker or development column. He’s young but he’s a veteran, so he’s sort of a tweener. Great assist to Denis Wideman in the second period and put things away with the empty netter.
Denis Wideman was noticeable in a positive way for the first time since returning from his injury. Classic wrister for a goal and added an assist in a game that showed his puck moving prowess once again.
Another great game for Berra, that pretty much sold me that he was heading back to Europe with his play leading up to this road trip. But with great starts in Montreal and Long Island he’s back in the mix as he heads over to Sochi for team Swiss.
Lance Bouma continues to impress. Another great shot block, this time adding the twist of dumping the puck down the ice killing a penalty from his belly. Plus he’s really amped up his physical game as well. Slowly becoming a very important player for the Flames going forward.
Sean Monahan continues to have a solid couple of weeks heading into the Olympic break. His goal was a typical Monahan goal, as he didn’t carve his way through defenders and finish with a flashy deke. Nope just got the puck in the slot and whacked it in. But what I’m seeing is better on the forecheck, much more physical in the corners, and more poise with the puck. Really coming along.
Draft Implications / Scoreboard
Flames win, never good for a draft position, their 6th win in their last 7 games. Luckily the Oilers have won five of their last six to keep pace as they turned back the other New York team tonight. The Panthers lost tonight so the Flames move back into a tie with the Panthers for 27th. The Sabres are really falling behind.
Oh and the Canucks lost again.
I mentioned it above, but Lance Bouma is really making a case for a role in the team’s core going forward. He’ll never be a true top six forward, but his increased panache with the puck, physical play and developing selfless leadership (shot blocking) has made him one of those tough to find heart and soul guys. … Backlund just continues to pile up the points of late, hopefully he does get the nod for his country with Sedin not going. He’s not doing it with mirrors, he uses his speed, rags the puck more effectively and is seeing the ice really well. … I’ve always loved the Islanders classic jerseys, so sharp. Amazing this organization continues to march out bizarre new looks every couple of years when they have so much going for them already. … I would have went with Eric Staal for the replacement for Stamkos today. Bigger, more versatile, and would accept a lesser role if asked. … Hard to believe the Flames have only 25 games left on their schedule. Have to admit the first real year of the rebuild has been a lot more fun than I expected. Amazing when a team actually gives a rip game in and game out.
The Flames pulled Westgarth out of the lineup and inserted Byron in his place, but the little guy was largely invisible.
Where Do They Go From Here?
One more contest, a match in Philly on Saturday morning and the Flames are mothballed until after the Olympics. Enjoy the games everyone!.