The Calgary Flames got a lead. They lost the lead. It wasn’t the end of the world, and they got the win.
As rough as that losing streak from just a couple of weeks ago – and it really hasn’t been that long – was, it wasn’t an accurate reflection of this team. Is this a particularly good team? Not really; they’ll hopefully still be fighting for a playoff spot two months from now, and that’s probably the best case scenario.
But they aren’t that bad of a team. February is off to a good start, and there’s some pretty solid growth evident here.
So that’s where TJ Brodie’s points come from
T.J. Brodie is kinda notorious for refusing to shoot. He’s generally good at every other aspect of the game – but have him shoot the puck? No. He won’t be doing that. (His presence on the top powerplay unit remains baffling for that fact alone.)
Case in point: he had one shot on net against the Devils.
But then he had four assists, too.
Brodie has had a number of multi-point nights throughout his career, but he’s never had a four-point game. He’s had three three-pointers – predictably, they were all three-assist games, because again, the guy simply doesn’t shoot – but the game against the Devils was something else entirely for him.
In that one game, Brodie tied Mark Giordano in points. Both now have 22 in 54 games played, good for eighth on the team. They’re 10 points back of Dougie Hamilton; also, Brodie got out of a tie with Troy Brouwer and leapfrogged Sam Bennett throughout his night.
Brodie has not had the best season, but we know he’s good. This was an abnormal offensive breakout from him, but he really shone in this one – particularly as he controlled the play in overtime. (Corsi is used as a puck possession proxy, but it’s not a fully accurate way of measuring what possession actually is. Glen Gulutzan said he wanted a possession team; Brodie and Mikael Backlund on that overtime shift were the epitome of that.)
Now imagine what he’ll be able to do when he gets to have a real defence partner! The future remains bright, potentially stupid offseason signings pending.
You know who else is great? Matt Stajan
Matt Stajan is a mostly unheralded dude who quietly keeps his head down, goes to work, occasionally unleashes old man rage when the situation calls for it, but mostly helps shelter the kids by taking on tougher starts and is all in all a really dependable bottom six centre.
I hope Las Vegas doesn’t take him, but I’m really starting to fear they might.
With his very timely goal – thank you Stajan (and also Brodie) (as a side note, that whole thing on maintaining confidence? It’s not like the Flames were dying in the third period, they totally kicked the Devils’ asses, but I wonder if it’s a bit more than a coincidence that it’s one of those sneaky savvy veteran guys who tied the game up after blowing a multi-goal lead) – hit 18 points on the season.
Why is that notable? Because the past two seasons, he only scored 17. Stajan has officially broken out of that funk, and will in all likelihood actually hit 20 points again.
It’s not really what was expected of him when he was traded for to be Jarome Iginla’s first line centre or whatever (good lord remember those days?), but it’s hard to hate Stajan’s current role. It’d be nice if he was actually paid like a fourth line centre, but nobody really brings up his cap hit because he’s never particularly bad at his job.
And every now and then you get angry games like last night’s in which he also scores. Kudos.
Oh that’s where the kids went
At the start of the season, you were probably expecting Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to be one and two in team scoring, or at least something to that effect. That’s what they were last season, at least, and by a fairly considerable margin. Throw in their big shiny new contracts, and… well, it was a very disappointing start.
Anyway. Guess who has the lead in team scoring right now?
Backlund, obviously. Keep up.
But after Backlund’s 35 points in in 54 games – he’s on pace for his second 20-goal season and his first 50+ point season, get hype!! – you’ll find Gaudreau and Monahan, tied for second with 34 points each. (Gaudreau in 10 fewer games played, but still.)
So hey. There they are.
With nine in his last 10 games, Monahan has remembered that he’s really gosh darn good at scoring goals. He does lead his draft class in points, albeit partially by benefit of Nathan MacKinnon having played 24 fewer games than him; that said, Monahan still leads in goals per game.
And the even better news? As wary as one may wish to be due to Monahan’s generally high shooting percentage, he’s actually shooting at a greater rate now than he has in his career. The more he shoots no matter what, the more likely he is to score. He’s inching closer to a 30-goal pace again.
Gaudreau, meanwhile, is on a little three-game point streak to go along with his team’s three-win streak. Here’s to more of that. Especially when his family is in the arena for constant adorable reaction shots. He was the only Flame other than Brodie to have a multi-point night.
Brian Elliott gets to keep his net
Brian Elliott had his first sub-.900 SV% game since the whole “win and you’re in” thing started, but it’s not as though he was terrible. Two goals on the penalty kill, okay, not ideal; he also got victimized by whatever the hell Brodie, Brouwer, and Dennis Wideman were thinking at even strength in the second.
He could have had a better game, but he also did enough to win it. And so, the net remains his for the next go. Hopefully he can keep hanging on to it – both to give Chad Johnson a continued break and because, you know, Elliott continuing to start means the Flames have continued to win.
He really does look a lot better since the new philosophy kicked in, though. I’m sure a fair bit of that has to do with the Flames actually giving a damn again, but a confident Elliott appears to be a good Elliott, and a good Elliott leads to victory. Knock on wood, but those really bad goals against seemed to have gone away.
Just 28 more games of Wideman!
He’s really not good. Reminder that he’s one of three Flames on average to play over 20 minutes a game (the others being Giordano and Brodie). That’s in part attributed to a fair share of ups and downs over the course of this season, but man, is this a down.
We’re in the final stretch here. Just hold on and keep waiting it out. And think about how much better things will be soon – potentially stupid offseason signings pending – because one of the key regular offenders of bad play on the Flames is almost gone, leaving an almost assuredly brighter future ahead.
For the record, I fully blame the delay of game penalty on him. Yes, he was pushed; he also exaggerated it and knocked the net off on purpose. It was the right call. And it almost burned his team. At least it set up his long-suffering defence partner for a four-point night.