February 2nd, 2014 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
The Flames have had great eras with great teams. Amazing seasonal records, President’s Trophies, division banners, and hall of fame players.
Yet with all this a sweep of a five game (or more) homestand was always a huge feat. This fate is made amazing when you consider it done with a 28th place team in a rebuild, a team short on impact players.
The Flames mopped up the five game homestand by blowing a two goal lead in the third period but finding the mark in overtime to simmer down the Minnesota Wild by a score of 4-3.
The Mikael Backlund story is getting more and more interesting. Four straight multiple point games is a wild scoring stretch for any player, but simply huge for a guy that was on his way out two months ago, and always starved for offence. What made this game more interesting though was that he was struggling. He had his worst game of the homestand and probably the last dozen, fighting the puck, coughing it up. Yet who’s the guy to beat a player one on one off the half wall in overtime to set up an odd man chance and the game winner? You got it.
Giordano and Brodie as a defense pairing were dominant on every shift, giving the Wild fits by jumping into the play and supporting forays down the ice. They are really working well together since Giordano got re-acclimatized after his injury.
Joe Colborne was great on the wall last night, getting a much better idea of who this player is going to be, and I’m less concerned about his trajectory. He did appear to get benched after taking a third period penalty and a Wild goal last night. Continues to create offence by using his size and reach down low and buying wingers time. When the Flames add and develop more talent he could be a pretty good wing man.
TJ Brodie … Yeah I talk about him every game. No points, 28 minutes of ice time and a plus two playing with Mark Giordano. What I’m noticing, especially live these days is his patience/poise with the puck. A dozen times in this game he was forced into a decision by taking away space, the defender thinking the space was gone and the job done would then turn away to where he felt the puck had to go, only to see that Brodie weighted him out and turned the other way into a more offensive position. Seeing that all the time. Much like Backlund beating a defender off the wall in the winner, it’s the type of individual skill that wins in the modern NHL.
Lance Bouma … doesn’t get enough ink from me but he’s a transformed player. He’s becoming less of an energy player and more of a Ron Stern type third line winger. Interesting to see a guy given a role or a schtick (in his case blocking shots and killing penalties) and that role is enough to pitch a tent in an NHL career, grow his confidence and then slowly develop to the big league speed and grow. His hands and physical play have really soared of late.
Another assist for Sean Monahan. What I liked the most about his game tonight though was better vision with the puck. The most impressive thing about this kid is his ability to get into deadly ice when he doesn’t have the puck, but he’s looked pretty 19 when he has it making decisions. Tonight he found Brodie for a one time, and used the cycle with Colborne to find the point a few times with poise. He’s coming along nicely.
Draft Implications / Scoreboard
Well we know where this section is going … for the first time in months the Flames have dug themselves out of the bottom three in the draft, and into a tie with the Panthers (identical records). Anyone into Drasaitl? The Flames are only a point behind the Islanders, but teams above the Isles are pretty much out of reach at the moment.
The Flames lost Kari Ramo at the tail of the first period when he moved behind the net to corral a dump in, only to lose his footing and go crashing to the ice. No clue as to how serious this is but it sure sits up an interesting situation for the suddenly surging Flames. Reto Berra came in in relief and struggled once again. All the goals were clearly not his fault, but the bottom line is the man gave up three goals on limited shots and the team blew a two goal lead. Will Ortio come up and take the starting roll? The kid has been outstanding in the AHL this season, maybe it’s his time? Injuries have always launched new Flames starters including Miikka Kiprusoff when Roman Turek went down, and Mike Vernon when Rejean Lemelin got hurt in 1985. … Mark Giordano extended his point streak to 9 games, now just 7 back of Gary Suter, passing both Housely and MacInnis. … Hey! The Flames are only 14 points behind the Canucks for the final playoff spot. The way the Canucks are going that should take about ten days. The Canucks sit only one point above Phoenix for the final playoff spot. … Where does Mikael Backlund sit in the projection of this team over the next few years? The team has Monahan in the fold, and are likely to add another forward/center with their first round pick this June, but the surge in Backlund may make him the ideal second line center going forward. Had third line as his max out in mind forever, but his play is suggesting an arch that could be more.
Mike Cammalleri re-entered the roster for Ben Street, and then promptly got hurt on the first shift. Luckily he returned. Kris Russell was a surprise scratch sending Chris Breen in for his first action since his recall. The guy was largely protected though playing only four minutes.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Three game road trip to complete the pre-olympic schedule as the Flames travel to Montreal, Long Island and Philadelphia.