It’s been the best and blurst of times for the Flames so far on their sojourn away from the Done. They put together a fairly solid effort against Detroit in Detroit only to fall flat on their faces the next night against Buffalo. The Red Wings game featured some opportunistic scoring and an uncharacteristcally strong 3rd period while defending a lead in a building that’s typically tough to win in. The defeat to the Sabres, in contrast, saw the return of now familiar Flames bugaboos: rotten special teams and excpetionally medicore ES play from the big guns. Only Karlsson’s heroics and the Sabres penchant for firing 10-bell chances wide prevented a massacre.
Tonight the Flames face a club they may well be battling for a playoff spot in April. The Avalanche are still a club with a number of glaring weaknesses, but the emergence of Landeskog, Winnik and O’Reilly as a legitmiate ES option behind the likes of Hejduk, Stastny, Duchene and Jones means the Avs aren’t nearly the push-overs they were last season. Landeskog may be one of those rare teenagers who can legitimately play in the league already and his addition to the already potent 5on5 duo of Winnik and O’Reilly means Colorado has a unit remisiscent of the Conroy, Moss and Glencross line who beat up other 2nd and 3rd lines for the Flames a couple of years ago.