Who the hell are these guys and what did they do with the Calgary Flames? You know who I’m talking about right? The team that finished 2nd last in goal scoring last season and was averaging less than two goals a game heading into Friday night -- yeah that would be them.
Well, something happened to change the tides and now the Flames are looking like world beaters every time they hit the ice.
This team has scored 10 goals in two games and outscored their opponents by four in both affairs. One reason for the surge in goal scoring has been that every line now seems to be creating chances.
Bourque is ‘red-hot’ as Peter Loubardias said, since coming back from his injury. He has all six of his goals in his last four games including the game winning goal in all three games. He nearly had back-to-back hat tricks but was thwarted by Antero Niittymaki.
But it’s not only Bourque scoring goals. Iggy has four points in the last two games. Tanguay has three in the last two. Stajan has three in the last two. Backlund has three points in the final two games of the road trip. Hagman has points in the last two, and even my good pal Olli Jokinen had two assists in Columbus on Friday night.
Couple this with outstanding goaltending from both Kiprusoff and Karlsson and you have a pretty winning formula – Flames have won four of five.
So what triggered all of this? What changed?
Well if you go back to last Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, there was a change in the line-up. Brent Sutter took Jokinen off the top line and slotted him with fellow countrymen Hagman, and put Stajan between Iginla and Tanguay. The move has paid immediate dividends and should have been done immediately to start the season instead of forcing the Iggy-Olli connection/EPIC FAIL on the team. You would have had better luck getting Brett Favre, Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant to admit they were faithful to their wives.
The Flames have played five very solid games in a row. Even despite losing to the Red Wings on Thursday night, the Flames probably had their best period till then in the first period of that game. If not for a lazy clearing attempt from Jokinen, the game could have ended differently.
Now most of you who read my blog know that I am quite regularly hard on this team. Call it tough love, call it pessimism, call it whatever you want. I am not going to be a ‘homer’ and tell you the team played great when they didn’t because that’s just not right. I’ll point out the good points and point out the negative ones – like the Flames power play which sits at a stunning 3 for 37 (8.1% and 25th in the league). My main contention is Darryl Sutter and the moves he has made to put this team in the situation it finds itself in – this, short of a Stanley Cup Championship, will probably never change as I believe the team is in need of change in the front office.
But enough negative talk, these are exciting times.
A couple closing comments on a great string of hockey from the Flames: Did you notice how excited Kipper was at the end of the Sharks game? A huge ‘pound the ground’ fist pump followed by numerous ‘Tiger’ pumps in the air—well maybe not Tiger-esque but for Kipper that’s as excited as I have seen him since 2004. Shutting out his old team is probably one of the main factors, but maybe he simply loves the added support.
Quirky stat: Only six times after the New Year last season did Kipper receive four or more goals of support. He has waited long enough for this and so have Flames fans.
With the tandem of goal scoring punch and stellar tending, this seems to be the team we were promised from the beginning. Hopefully, the good habits continue forward.