Flames Keep Rolling Along
Friday January 14. Two meandering Canadian NHL teams face-off looking to jump start their season and climb back into the playoff race in their respective conferences.
The Calgary Flames were victorious on that cold January night and have since gone on an unthinkable tear going 9-1-2 in their next 12 games. The Ottawa Senators, the Flames opponent that night, have gone in the opposite direction. The loss to the Flames began a string of 10 consecutive defeats and after tonight, 11 straight games without posting a W.
Ottawa is doing exactly what (some) Flames fans hoped Calgary would do – tank to snag a good draft pick, whether intentionally or not. Ottawa is now without their Captain and on the verge of likely dealing one of Chris Phillips, Mike Fischer, or Alex Kov-a-lev. They are a sinking ship and only the Islanders envy their position.
The Flames, on the other hand, have grown into a team. They are dangerous right now and brimming with more confidence than Charlie Sheen at a ‘how many briefcases of coke did you snort’ convention.
They are getting outstanding individual performances from a number of different players and tonight was no different.
Robyn Regehr, who played in his 800th career game tonight, was outstanding. Not only did he play strong defensively, as he tends to do, but he chipped in with two assists. He has never been super comfortable playing the offensive role but he has a cannon of a shot and is starting to fire more pucks towards the net which is resulting in more chances.
Speaking of cannons, Anton Babchuk almost broke the net tonight with a seeing eye shot that was past Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner before he knew the shot was even taken. He also added in two assists and has slowly turned into the Flames go-to point man on the power play. He is still a little shaky in the defensive end and after tonight I wouldn’t let him and Mikkelson be on the same shift together, but he is carving out a niche role for himself here is Calgary.
Despite still looking like an out of control tyke player with too much speed when he barrels down the ice, Olli Jokinen is racking up the points. And, surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with his shot as he has nearly triple the amount of assists as he does goals. He has fit in well on a line with Glencross and Moss and seems to be finding them streaking down the wing at the opportune times – see Glencross’s goal tonight.
As for Glencross, I think everyone but Lehner knew where the puck was going when Glencross sped in on the partial break from the flip Hail Mary pass from Jokinen. Glencross has that top corner on lock down. I for one, never get tired of watching it. Anyone else agree? That’s 15 goals now, tying his career high. This is one player I hope the Flames are thinking of re-signing.
Tim Jackman: Is there anything you can’t do? Ok, so maybe not the best player to set up the PP, but once it is set up he is becoming the Holmstrom (ok, so a slight exaggeration) of Calgary. With every goal he scores he sets a new career high and he has been the most consistent player for the Flames all season long. Not sure anyone can argue with that point.
The one player who didn’t do anything to impress me, and I don’t mean to crap on the parade of positivity that is flowing from this blog, but Brendan Mikkelson is horrible. How is TJ Brodie, Matt Pelech, John Negrin, Keith Seabrook, Josh Meyers, Chris Breen, or Gord Baldwin not a better option than this guy? Mikkelson brings little, if not nothing to the table. He is a fill in, and a fill in this team could do without at this point. While Pardy is recovering, please give one of the Flames young D prospects a chance. If I could ask for one little change Feaster it would be this. Please make it happen.
The Flames are a good team. I never really believed I would be saying that this season, but I am and quite happy about it.
Next up, the Ducks and ‘Nucks.
What game isn’t big?