The Calgary Flames have now won seven straight games, and everybody loves them. The 14 points they’ve collected during this span have vaulted them into contention for a divisional playoff spot, and at the rate they’re going, it’s looking more like they’ll be battling for home ice rather than just the right to make it.
Just when it looked like they were in danger of having their streak snapped – there was a lot left to be desired from the game against the Detroit Red Wings – they responded by scoring four goals in the first period of their following game. This isn’t the same fragile team we saw getting crushed back in January.
That 5-0 loss to the Coyotes – the last time the Flames played a game and didn’t earn a point – was three weeks ago. The Flames have gotten a bit of luck along the way, but that game appears to have been the final straw for them.
Flames losses have been incredibly rare as of late. They lost eight of 13 in January; after the All-Star Break, they got their heads on straight, rebounded, and won nine of 12 in February. They are, of course, so far perfect throughout March.
But at some point, the good times will end. … Probably. January and February were completely opposite months, but the truth of this team is likely somewhere in the middle – though I’d say it skews more towards February, considering both the team’s underlying numbers (Corsica, NaturalStatTrick, Puckalytics, and Datarink all give slightly different variations, but all agree that if you round up they’re a 51% 5v5 CF team, on the cusp of being top 10 in the NHL) and their evident overall growth.
This is the team we were expecting at the beginning of the season. Sure, there are a few hiccups – you paid what for Troy Brouwer vs. what for Kris Versteeg? And the bottom pairing remains something of a nightmare – but they’ve arrived. And while usually it’s too late for teams who get off to that bad of a start, the Flames this year appear to be one of those exceptions.
So what happens when the Flames lose their next game? Well for one thing, it’s probably not a lethargic blowout. Those will probably still happen every now and then, but the way this team is currently feeling, it’s hard to see another Montreal-style loss happening to this group.
For another thing – they probably bounce right back the next game. They very easily could have lost that game to Detroit had Brian Elliott not bailed them out; he did, though, and they got the two points, and bounced right back to get two more.
Longest win streaks
The Columbus Blue Jackets probably already set this season’s record with 16. If the Flames somehow match them, then it means their next loss would come against the Colorado Avalanche on March 27, which would be… extremely less than ideal, considering where that team is at.
If they tie the Penguins’ record from 1993, then their next loss would be to the Kings: also not ideal, but probably less disastrous, considering how things have been going as of late.
The Flames franchise record is 10 games. If they match that, then their next loss would be to the Boston Bruins on March 15: less awful, since they’re an Eastern team.
One thing’s for certain: it’ll definitely be fun to see how long they can keep this going.
The 2014-15 Flames weren’t a good team, but they did have a very good line: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler.
That wasn’t a line for the whole season, though. Remember when seemingly every non-Monahan centre got injured? That forced him into a shutdown role, while Gaudreau and Hudler were given the high ground.
But then Mikael Backlund returned to the lineup and was able to resume responsibilities. Monahan was placed with Gaudreau and Hudler, and that line took off: Gaudreau scored 16 points that March, Monahan scored 16, and Hudler scored 23. It was far and away the best month of Monahan and Hudler’s season.
Micheal Ferland hasn’t been with Gaudreau and Monahan all that long – he’s been there since, what, the win streak started? I’m sure that’s just a coincidence – but the three of them have been tearing it up.
Gaudreau has two goals, nine points, 15 shots since the win streak started. Monahan has two goals, eight points, 15 shots. Ferland has five goals, five points (uhh), 15 shots.
Ferland is the clear anomaly on that line, but it’s early yet, and he’s only 24 – not to mention how, in the midst of an extremely bumpy year, this is probably the best Gaudreau and Monahan have looked since… well… a healthy Hudler was on their line.
It’s entirely possible the Flames are recapturing the magic they held in 2014-15 – only with smart additions (Michael Frolik, Dougie Hamilton, Brian Elliott, drafting Matthew Tkachuk, and even Glen Gulutzan), they might actually be for real this time.