Winning is fun. Winning blowouts is even more fun. I assume winning a blowout without giving up a couple of inane goals at the very end of it is maximum fun, but the Flames aren’t there quite yet, it would seem.
But the fact that they’ve won six games in a row has been a lot of fun, and that streak has seen their season officially resurrected. I’m kind of afraid for the next time they lose a game, but the way things are going right now, this is no longer a mentally weak team, and I’m sure they have it in them to keep on rolling.
Wait for the recovery
The Flames did not have a particularly good first period. It’s not that they had a bad one, either, but especially towards the end of the frame they were so sloppy they were just one bad bounce away from the Jets taking the lead in the final minute. And wouldn’t that have been a way to head to the locker room? I assume the team went over some stuff during the first intermission – i.e., stop being so lackadaisical, what the hell is wrong with you – and, evidently, it worked.
But while they were having a lazy go of things at times, Chad Johnson was there to bail them out, multiple times.
The same Johnson who saw his stats dip a little with that bleh goal with .1 seconds left in the game, and still has a .932 save percentage in all situations – which is fifth in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 games played. He’s behind Devan Dubnyk, Jimmy Howard, Carey Price, and Antti Raanta, and Raanta just barely hits those parameters. He’s tied with Sergei Bobrovsky.
So yeah, we’re kind of on the verge of “top five goalie in the NHL Chad Johnson” here. This is the best season of his career, without question.
Though he has only played 18 games, so we should perhaps temper expectations a bit. Be excited, but cautious.
The great thing about this one was Johnson only had to keep his team in the game for a period; in the next frame, they rewarded him with quite the run support.
Wow look at all these points
Fun with numbers time!
Johnny Gaudreau has played four games since returning from a broken finger. He has scored two points in each of those four games. He now has 19 points in 21 games played this season. Remember how Gaudreau was flirting with being a point per game player all throughout last season? Turns out that guy didn’t go anywhere.
Also, how much fun is it to watch the opposition try to stop him only for Gaudreau to retain the puck and dance around them and get into the offensive zone or generate a scoring chance anyway? That happened like what, at least five times last night? Ten? A lot. Imagine how much more fun it would be if the penalties committed against him were actually called, too!
Gaudreau now has 100 career assists in 181 games. That is reasonably good.
Sean Monahan is currently on a seven-game point streak. He has nine points over that time. This has vaulted him up to second in team scoring with 17 points in 31 games. This is still below what we expect of him, but the course is being corrected and the goal he got was scored in the most Monahan way possible (beauty shot in the slot via a beauty pass from Gaudreau). The classics are always nice to return to. You’d think he was due to score eventually: Monahan had five shots last night.
Dougie Hamilton had a three-point night. He is tied with Monahan for second in team scoring. Get used to this; he’s probably going to be leading defence scoring for a while. How could he not with that shot and the ability to jump up into the rush like that? And seven shots on net, too. He’s relentless. Almost as if he’s a key offensive contributor on this team, or something.
Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk had three-point nights, too. Backlund had six shots on net. Tkachuk didn’t have any, but he did have three assists, so we’ll forgive him for that.
More on the 3M line
In the section above, we covered that Gaudreau is leading the Flames in scoring, and Monahan and Hamilton are tied for second. Sam Bennett is fourth with 16 points, and then, you’ll never guess who’s in a three-way tie for fifth place.
If you ever needed more of a sign that a line was meant to play together, may I present you with these stat lines.
Wow way to ruin a nice line Backlund.
Michael Frolik has now gone five games without a point, which is unfortunate for the Flames’ leading point scorer from back when Gaudreau was out of the lineup. It’s not as though he’s been useless during that time, though; he remains one of the top corsi players on the Flames and continues to drive play north and be a fantastic penalty killer, even when he isn’t seeing the puck go in the back of the net.
It’s just now his linemates have caught up to him. Tkachuk, Backlund, and Frolik are all tied for fifth in team scoring. They follow up a group of guys ranging from the ages of 20-23 with a teenager and 27 and 28-year-olds. And technically, that’s supposed to be the shutdown line.
Though last night they did face the Jets’ top players and came away with dominant corsi numbers (the lowest point was Frolik being a 54.55% guy when sharing the ice with Dustin Byfuglien. The lowest point. Backlund never dropped below 60%), so they kind of did do that whole shutting down thing, too.
They just helped score three goals while they were doing it.
Fun with special teams
TWO powerplay goals last night? Who are these people??
The Flames had four opportunities to score with the man advantage. We still got the old staples – oh no, the puck is out of the offensive zone and we can’t get it back in – but when you score on half of your chances, you’re doing a good job. They only gave up one powerplay goal on four opportunities, too; the end result of being a little too eager to add to their league-leading shorthanded tally. (Can you blame them? It’s been like a week since they last scored one.)
The Flames’ powerplay is now clicking at 15.5%. That’s 23rd in the NHL. These shouldn’t be numbers to celebrate, but it wasn’t that long ago their powerplay was at a single digit success rate, so damn it, celebrate. We’ve earned this. The Flames have scored powerplay goals in five straight games. I think we’re just about in “apologize to Dave Cameron” territory, or at least we will be when we go a whole game without those zone entry messes. Though one day the good times will end, and we’ll see how they respond.
The penalty kill has overall been doing well, but it’s still clicking along at 78.8%, which is 25th in the NHL. It still needs to rise up.
They say you’ve got pretty decent special teams if their percentages add up to be 100%. Right now, the Flames’ add up to 94.3%. That’s much better than the 80-region they were in like a month ago.
Technically the Flames are at the top of the Pacific Division, but they have also played more games than everyone else in the NHL, so not really.
Before you tell me to shut up, I will add that the Flames are officially in a playoff spot now.
Going by points percentage, they’re a .548% team. That’s eighth in the west. They hold the second wild card spot.
Again, that isn’t anything to be proud of; then again, after the way their season started, it is.
They also now hold a goal differential of -5. (That last goal against, ugh.) A positive goal differential is within sight. Most playoff teams tend to have that. Let’s do this, please. After suffering a few blowouts against them – a couple, coincidentally, in Saturday night games – a couple of their own are righting the ship.
Now if they could just close them out properly…