December 29 2016 08:00AM
Disclaimer: Matthew Tkachuk's chances of winning the Calder are probably about as likely as your chances of finding a picture of him with his mouthguard actually in his mouth. In other words, not likely.
He'll get some consideration, I'm sure. Maybe a particularly strong back half could see him end up a finalist, but aiming to be top five in voting may be more realistic.
Whether or not Tkachuk does get a trophy at the end of the year, though, keep in mind that approaching the 40-game mark of the season - the very one that will determine Tkachuk hitting unrestricted free agent status a year earlier - he is, without a doubt, one of the best rookies in the NHL this season.
I'm going to go so far as to say you could make a case he's actually the best one.
December 28 2016 08:10PM
With just two games in the World Juniors today, there were also just two Flames prospects in action. The prospective blue line looks to be a point of strength for Calgary these days, and Oliver Kylington and Adam Fox are big parts of that.
Kylington and Team Sweden were the first ones up, beating Team Switzerland 4-2. Then, it was Adam Fox and Team USA, who defeated Team Slovakia 5-2. Tyler Parsons had the day off as Joseph Woll got the start for the Americans.
December 28 2016 03:00PM
It's no secret that the forward unit of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk has been the most consistent for the team all year. The "3M" line has been together for majority of the season so far and combined they own the team's best results at even strength by a wide margin.
So why consider breaking them up? Simply, to spread the wealth. While the Backlund line continues to put up above average shot rates at 5on5, every other regular forward unit on the team has mostly been drowning. While having three potent play drivers on one line makes for a highly effective single unit, it also means the rest of the team struggles to get out of their own end on many nights.
And for Glen Gulutzan only being able to rely on a third of your top nine rotation to outshoot or outchance the opposition is a tough way to win hockey games over the long run.
December 28 2016 01:55PM
The Calgary Flames had back-to-back injury scares bracketing the holiday break.
Troy Brouwer played just 5:55 in the Flames' final game before Christmas, forced to leave just before the end of the first period due to an unfortunately timed and placed Kris Versteeg shot. He didn't return, and didn't play in the Flames' first game back, either; he's out week-to-week with a broken finger.
Meanwhile, the Flames had another potential problem in their first game back. While killing a five-on-three penalty against the Colorado Avalanche, Mikael Backlund blocked a shot that left him with limited mobility. The kill essentially turned into a five-on-two, except Backlund is so good at this that even while barely able to skate he was still able to break up chances. He ended up not playing in the third period, but following the game it wasn't expected his injury was serious, and indeed, he's expected to be in the lineup when the Flames host the Ducks on Thursday.
All in all, the Flames got pretty lucky with these ones.
December 28 2016 10:00AM
With the new year fast approaching, the conversation is going to start picking up on potential contract extensions for players like Chad Johnson. That's because players on one-year deals are eligible to sign extensions starting Jan. 1.
Is it too early for the Flames to start going down that road with Johnson? And what might a new deal look like for one of Calgary's most pleasant surprises this season?