April 7th, 2014 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
Earning 6 points on a 5 game Eastern road trip is a tough feat at any point of the season, at any point in a team’s evolution … at any point period.
Yet that’s exactly what the down and out Calgary Flames managed in a late season junket through Ontario, Florida and finally New Jersey with the season all but done.
Tonight’s 1-0 victory in the swamp was a gem for Kari Ramo, and potentially destructive for any chance at the fourth overall draft pick, but chalk another up for team building!
Kari Ramo was simply sensational again, the second time on this trip he’s stolen points for the Flames. Add in the MacDonald theft in Florida and you have quite the road trip for the Kiprusoff-less Flames late in the season. Ramo continues to make a strong bid for the starting role next season.
Mark Giordano has simply owned this section since I altered the format of game stories with the season all but lost. You never know what will happen when a guy is given added responsibility and asked to step up. Giordano has thrived. He may be taking a year off the rebuild on his own.
Tough to find a player with a tough night in a shut out road victory … especially a low scoring 1-0 victory with minimal stats of any kind.
Sean Monahan came up empty in the building where he was drafted but not for lack of effort. The Flame first rounder had over 20 minutes of ice time (his first back to back 20 minute games of his young career) and five shots on goal. Part of the ice time came from getting stuck on the ice for an almost two minute shift near the end, he played 4.5 out of the final 9 minutes as Hartley leaned on him heavily.
Kenny Agostino on home turf didn’t disappoint, as he should have scored twice, including one blue chip chance on a breakaway that resulted in a penalty that lead to the Flames goal. The kid does have hands, and will be a player … guessing he has some AHL miles to ride first though.
The Flames dialed back Van Brabant’s ice time to under nine minutes tonight, ice that went to Agostino essentially. Had a great scoring chance that could have netted his first NHL goal.
Hartley used his third pairing sparingly but Cundari and Billins both had respectable games considering their combined height would be close to ten feet. Didn’t get out muscled too bad by the bigger, faster Devils. Cundari lead the Flames with 4 hits.
Draft Implications / Scoreboard
Trouble! The Flames lost two games to start this trip and things were looked pretty much locked down for fourth overall with the high flying Bolts and playoff desperate Devils on the slate. Instead they reel off three straight wins making 5th overall more likely than ever.
Guessing the Flames will have to lose their remaining games, and gain only one more point to grab the fourth spot. The Kings will be tough, but the Jets and Canucks won’t have a lot to play for.
The game featured the battle of the NHL’s oldest club and the NHL’s youngest club with the youngsters finding a way to pants their grandfathers. What a refreshing change to hear Flames and young, different. For years they were old, without prospects and heading for 9th in their conference. Those seasons seemed like such a waste. … Another great game for Chris Butler. I was never as hostile about the guy as most, but I’m still amazed to see him go from a depth defenseman looking to get moved to an important part of the team’s top four. Suddenly find myself worrying that he won’t sign in Calgary. … My theory of the Flames getting Bennet because the Oilers will take Draisaitl is taking on water with all these wins. Guess I’d better start getting used to Dal Colle? Bottom line for me? The draft order is always rewritten a few years after each draft and you never know if you’re better off not having the option on a guy that is taken above you. More fun to win games. At least I keep telling myself that.
Ramo back into the Flames net, and Cundari in for Breen, no other changes for Calgary. Have to think a return home will see both Stajan and Byron enter the fold but I guess we’ll see.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Two more home games; Wednesday against the Kings and Friday against the Jets, then off to Vancouver to finish the season.