You know who scored six goals in the past week? Sam Bennett.
You know what that gets him? Second star of the week honours from the NHL.
Where would the Flames be without Sam Bennett? Significantly further back in the rebuild, as the Flames’ 19-year-old rookie looks to establish himself as one of Calgary’s top players for the future. He could be a first liner for this team one day, and it was this past week he really started showing why.
Without him, the Flames’ record wouldn’t have changed much. They went 1-1-1 through the week; without Bennett, they would have had one less point, but that’s about it standings-wise.
What Bennett really did this past week, though, was provide hope. Both in-game, as his goal against the San Jose Sharks – the one that snapped an 18-game goalless drought – tied them, giving the Flames hope they could make something out of a game they had previously been down 2-0 and 3-1 in. His goal against the Oilers gave them the lead for the majority of the game, and helped the Flames get a single point that could be important down the stretch, one way or another.
But what was really, really, really special was his four-goal performance against the Panthers. It was Bennett’s first career hat trick, with an extra impressive goal added for good measure: something nobody else in the Flames’ rebuilding plans has done, not even Johnny Gaudreau.
It was the first time any Flame had scored that much in a single game since some guy named Jarome Iginla did it back in 2003. Bennett also became the third-youngest NHL player to ever accomplish the feat, furthering just how impressive his performance was.
It’s not every day somebody has a four-goal game, after all. Bennett may never accomplish it again, but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is he did it. He broke out of his slump in impressive, emphatic fashion, and announced himself with each goal: “This is what I can do. And I’m just getting started.”
Whichever way this season goes, Bennett’s performance this past week will likely go down as one of its highlights, and it’ll be something to draw back on through the inevitable off-season. And for a struggling team devoid of much high end offensive talent, to see something like Bennett’s star honours was necessary. No, the Flames aren’t there yet – but they’re working towards it, and here’s the tangible proof.