It was a big week for the Calgary Flames, with three games against in-conference opponents, and the long-awaited return of their captain Mark Giordano. All this and more in this week’s Weekly Ignition!
Calgary played three games in four nights this week.
On Wednesday, the Flames skated to a rather impressive 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, one night removed from a 6-2 Coyotes win in Edmonton. It was a fairly complete 60 minutes of ice hockey, as the Flames had goals from T.J. Brodie, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak, some solid net-minding from Karri Ramo and never looked terrified during the game. [Post-Game]
On Friday, the Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche, one night removed from an 8-2 spanking the Avs received in Edmonton. Despite scoring first (via a Kris Russell power-play marker), the Flames gave up three goals in about five minutes and lost 3-2. Matt Stajan had the other Calgary goal and Karri Ramo got the loss. [Post-Game]
On Saturday, the Flames were back in action against the Oilers, who hadn’t played since spanking the Avalanche 8-2. The Flames scored first (via a Lee Stempniak goal) but Reto Berra’s shutout was snapped with 10.1 seconds left. Then Jiri Hudler scored in OT and the Flames won anyway, evening up this year’s Battle of Alberta at one win apiece (both of them by the road team). [Post-Game]
Justin Azevedo updated everyone on November’s prospect NHLE numbers. Spoiler: Johnny Gaudreau is really, really good.
Some guy that used to play in Calgary is returning to town on Tuesday, as a member of the Boston Bruins. The Sun’s Randy Sportak spoke with Morgan Klimchuk, picked with the first rounder the Flames got from the Penguins for Jarome Iginla, about #12’s return. Eric Francis spoke to Iginla about #12’s exit from Calgary. Meanwhile, the venerable George Johnson of the Herald courts controversy by declaring Iginla the best Flame ever.
Finally, I spoke with Abbotsford Heat coach Troy G. Ward about how the Flames’ farm team are doing so far. Spoiler: They’re doing pretty well.
Also, buy some shirts! If they do well, maybe Uncle Wanye will let us have FlamesNation hoodies. And stickers!
A LOOK BACK
The Flames won two out of three games. In contrast the general theory of "momentum" in sports, the wins came against teams who won the game before and their loss coming against a team that lost the night before. Hockey’s weird like that.
Outside of the third period against Edmonton, you can argue that the return of Mark Giordano took a lot of the lead-blowing late-game panic out of the Flames system. And that’s a great sign if you’re worried about bad habits and a losing culture creeping in. Despite playing generally pretty well so far this season, a combination of the Flames being a tad short on high-end talent and buried in the Pacific Division means they’ll get a pretty good draft pick, tank or no tank.
Down in Abbotsford, the best team in the AHL, the Abbotsford Heat, continued their strong play. They played twice at home and won both games against Florida’s farm club, the San Antonio Rampage. On Friday, the Heat won 4-2 and on Saturday they won 5-2.
The scoring-by-committee approach continues to pay dividends: five different players scored over the weekend (Ben Street, Mark Cundari, Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund and Ben Hanowski), while Michael Ferland, Chad Billins and Brett Olson all had multiple assists. Joni Ortio got two more wins, pushing his record to 11-1-0, with a 2.28 goals against average ad a .924 save percentage. When Berra got called up, he had worse numbers than Ortio over a roughly equivalent period. Just sayin’.
Alaska won two of three games against the Utah Grizzlies, with Olivier Roy starting all three games and winning twice via shutout.
The prospect Three Stars includes five players this week because five players are deserving. Johnny Gaudreau had “just” three points this weekend but remains one of the highest-scoring players in college hockey. After a slow start, Yale’s Kenny Agostino is heating up and had a pair of goals this weekend. Elsewhere, Emile Poirier and Brett Kulak both had four assists and Ryan Culkin managed three helpers.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Flames are gonna be busy this week. They host Jarome Iginla’s Boston Bruins on Tuesday in a game that’s sure to be full of emotion at the ‘Dome. After that, they host Carolina on Thursday night, then hit the road for a Saturday afternoon game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres and a Sunday night date with the New York Rangers at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
In the minors, the Abbotsford Heat host the Iowa Wild on Wednesday and Thursday, while the Alaska Aces head down to Idaho to play the Steelheads (they’re named after a kind of fish) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.