Photo credit: Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports
All it took was 31 seconds and a couple of first-ever NHL points to bring the Flames up from the drudges of a 1-0 loss, give an old goaltender the best possible farewell he probably could have asked for, and pick up a completely unnecessary two points.
Thirty-one seconds, and a trio of unlikely performers.
Niklas Backstrom was truly fantastic
In the four games Backstrom ultimately played for the Flames, he posted the following save percentages: .955%, .793%, .773%, and .972%; otherwise known as pretty good, yikes, yikes, and a classic case of an old Finnish goalie dragging the Flames to victory kicking and screaming.
Of the four games, the season finale was easily his best. Against Montreal, he only faced 22 shots. It was still a great performance back then, considering; Backstrom was coming off of not having played in 14 months, and for someone of his age and with his injury history to return to the game like that is impressive, no matter what.
But this was a game he earned, from start to finish. Minnesota was basically dead in the third period, mustering up a mere five shots, but he’d had to contend against 31 in the 40 minutes before while the skaters in front of him gave him very little help. It was, in all senses, his win.
And if this is it – and mind he’s 38 years old, with a battered body, who has only played four games recently and only two of them performed well in – then it’s a storybook ending. He was beat up in his first return to Minnesota, but in his second, he gave the fans he played in front of the most one last great performance – and the game meant nothing to Minnesota, so it was fine.
Backstrom wanted to play again, and the Flames and Wild worked together to accommodate his request. It just so happens to be poetic the final game of the season was between these two teams. It’s really nice he got that opportunity, and it couldn’t have gone any better.
I swear I’ve seen this before
Behold, Patrick Sieloff’s first NHL goal:
Now, T.J. Brodie’s first NHL goal:
They aren’t the same goal, obviously. Backstrom was on opposite ends of the ice for them. Brodie was much closer to the net for his, and it came off the cycle, rather than the rush. And Sieloff’s was deflected in.
And obviously, Sieloff isn’t about to become Brodie any time soon, or ever. They have different games.
I’m just saying, the Flames should probably bring rookie defencemen into Minnesota and tell them to just throw the puck at the net from the right side of the ice, because apparently, that gets them goals.
You seriously could not have picked a least likely duo to score in this game than Sieloff and Brandon Bollig. Too bad Deryk Engelland was unable to go; he probably could’ve scored another goal in his third straight game. Apparently he passed along his newfound powers.
Re-sign Josh Jooris
In a night in which the Flames took six penalties and didn’t give up a single power play goal, some extra shoutouts deserve to go to Brodie and Josh Jooris, because they were both just a couple of seconds shy from playing six minutes on the penalty kill.
Obviously, Brodie isn’t going anywhere. If this isn’t one last call out to re-sign Jooris, though, I have no idea what else would be. He only scored 13 points this season, but Jooris is exactly the kind of player who needs to be in the bottom six. He’s young, he’s smart, he’s capable of stepping up in case of injuries, he’s one of the better penalty killers the Flames have available, and he’s cost effective. There’s zero downside.
Jooris saw an extra 17 corsi events go against him when killing off penalties over six minutes. Ten of them were actual shots against. He was called upon big time, though, and weathered the storm, with some help from his goalie.
Considering how Jooris inexplicably spent about a quarter of the season as a healthy scratch, he’s more than made his case that he deserves to stick around for the future.