The Calgary Flames have been dispelling troubling consistencies this season.
Slow starts to games, starting the season on cold streaks, questionable backup goaltending, zero impact bottom six — all kicked to the curb 20 games into the 21-22 regular season. They addressed yet another tendency last night that has plagued the hearts of Flames fans for far too long.
Winning games that they should
It sounds simple enough. If the Flames enter the game as the favourite, they should win the majority of those games. Particularly against bottom feeders. So many times they would line up against a visiting Coyotes or Blue Jackets or Panthers and completely fail to show up.
You could see there was that potential last night. The game was tied 2-2 in the second and Chicago was prying momentum away from the home team. They had managed to get possession 52.5% of the period, the Hawks had gotten three cross crease opportunities off that period. You could tell a quiet Darryl Sutter was furious.
Then with 4-some minutes left in the second; the 21-22 Flames showed up. They didn’t get on the scoreboard immediately, but they started gaining the zone more concisely and set up in the Blackhawks zone more often.
Even when Chicago started pushing back, the Flames managed to spend more time on the other end of the ice. The final period of the game the Flames out-chanced the Blackhawks 23-9. Finally the puck found it’s way past Marc-Andre Fleury via a bounce off Seth Jones.
After a shaky first two periods where the Flames allowed five premium goal scoring opportunities — they allowed just one in the third. Both offensively and defensively getting their game going when they needed to.
It seems so simple, but anyone who has followed this team in the last twenty years understands all too well that the Calgary Flames struggle greatly with playing how they are expected to against weaker teams. Here is a one line summary from the Head Coach:
"These are the ones where you just gotta know how to win."
Cause for concern
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was collided with by a Blackhawks player in the mid first and was slow to get up. Markstrom has had concussion issues in the past and sustained one that affected his play last year. He’s taken his share of shots to the head this season as well. He played well enough for the rest of the game, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Great to see
You have to feel good seeing Milan Lucic protect a rolling puck as it headed towards an empty net. Looch could have touched it for the goal, but he’d rather Trevor Lewis got credit. Lucic would make a fine captain.
Sean Monahan was skating well last night. Given his struggle with injuries; it’s good to see him looking like he has full mobility again. He’s been torched by Flames fans, but he plays through injuries because he wants to help the team succeed. He has sacrificed a lot trying to do so.
Potential acquisition: Alex Edler
Today’s potential acquisition is another former Vancouver Canuck. The 6’4” 35 year old Swede has seen heavy mileage over a 943 game, 15 season career, but still has gas in the tank. It may surprise you to read this, but Alex Edler is currently playing first pairing minutes in LA this year. With Drew Doughty currently sidelined with injury; Edler is the Kings’ highest paid defenseman on the active roster at a 3.5 million cap hit until the end of the season. The Kings would have to retain and it’s possible a third team may need to be involved to alleviate further cap. That said, he’s actually playing decent hockey. He’s slow, but he’s getting it done and looks involved in the play.
He would be acquired as injury insurance, and he has an NMC. Alex may not be interested in coming here for those reasons, but who better to convince him to make another cup push than fellow countrymen Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Jacob Markstrom or even Rasmus Andersson?
Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but it would be an unexpected blow to the hearts of Canucks fans in an already miserable season. Who doesn’t want to see that?
Now is time for a well earned rest. The Flames get a few days to recuperate after a busy first 39 days and play again Saturday night against Nik Ehlers and the 9-5-4 Winnipeg Jets.
Enjoy your day,