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The top 5 Flames moments of 2017

Writing the annual “top moments” of any given calendar year might be the most fun I have on this site. It’s cool to revisit different moments from January through December, and 2017 was no different for the Flames. The only unfortunate part of this year’s countdown is the complete void of positive playoff moments, but maybe 2018 can rectify that. Happy New Year and enjoy!

5. Music City madness

Calgary’s 6-5 overtime win in Nashville on Feb. 21 was significant for one main reason: what happened next. Read on for more details, but a rather significant win streak started with this thrilling Flames win at Bridgestone Arena. With 2017 about to end, I think it’s safe to say this was the most exciting game of the year.

Also of note was the formation of Calgary’s top trio for the remainder of the season. Micheal Ferland was placed on a line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to start the game and the results were immediately positive. Ferland rewarded the decision with a pair of first period goals and helped the Flames open up a seemingly commanding 4-1 lead early in the middle frame. Until it wasn’t commanding.

The Predators turned on the burners and scored four goals in the final 9:10 of the middle frame to take a 5-4 lead into the second intermission. Credit Calgary, though, because they’d tie the game midway through the third period before Mark Giordano won the game 43 seconds into overtime. The game was a blast and what it sparked was even more exciting for Flames fans.

4. It’s a clinch

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Now let’s fast forward just over a month to March 31 and a home game against the San Jose Sharks. After failing in their first opportunity to clinch a playoff spot two nights prior, Calgary left no doubt in punching their postseason ticket the second chance they got. Thanks to a torrid second half of the season, the Flames clinched a playoff spot for the second time in three years.

There’s not much to tell about the game itself, however. Johnny Gaudreau scored 12:26 into the first period and Calgary never trailed en route to a 5-2 win, but those details are rather trivial. More importantly, the Flames got themselves back to the postseason and it felt much more merit based as opposed to 2015.

3. They can win there!

Hearing fans at the Honda Center pummel the Flames with “you can’t win here” chants this past April was infuriating for most, mainly because of how painstakingly accurate the message was. That’s why Oct. 9 was more than just a win over a despised division rival; it was also the end of perhaps the most frustrating streak in team history.

Dating back to Jan. 25, 2004, Calgary had lost 25 straight regular season games in Anaheim, already an NHL record for futility. When you combined playoff and regular season losses, the awful run bulged to 29 games from April 25, 2006. It was ugly any way you sliced it.

But in their third game of the new season, the Flames got an early goal from Sean Monahan and rode a stellar Mike Smith performance in net to their 2-0 slump buster triumph. You could tell how fired up Mikael Backlund was when he scored early in the third, because he knew this streak better than anyone on the team.

In the end, Smith made 43 saves for his first shutout with his new team and Calgary won a game in Anaheim for the first time in 5,013 days. Sure, it’s only one win in 26 tries, but it also made this phrase accurate again: they can win there!

2. Make it 10

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Had you told a Flames fan in October or November of 2016 to hang tight for a double digit win streak in a few months, they’d have thrown a drink in your face, even if you weren’t at a bar. Well, starting with our number 5 moment on this countdown, that’s exactly what happened.

Culminating with a 4-3 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary put together a 10-game heater between Feb. 21 and March 13 to truly salvage their season and solidify a playoff spot. The Flames outscored opponents 36-18 over the course of the streak, posted a pair of shutouts, and etched a spot in franchise history.

Calgary’s 10 straight wins made up the the longest run since the team moved from Atlanta in 1980, besting the previous record of eight, accomplished three times (1989, 1993, 2005). The Flames also tied the overall franchise record set in 1978 with the team was still in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, a 5-2 loss to Boston on March 15 rendered Calgary unable to set a new team record, but it didn’t diminish the importance of those three weeks in the spring. Without those 10 straight wins, the Flames would have been nip and tuck for a playoff spot.

1. Jaromir Jagr

Photo via @SammyHudes on Twitter

Some may disagree on this at number one, but that’s okay, because this is a very subjective countdown. For me, seeing the NHL’s number two all-time scoring leader pop on a #68 Flames jersey is one of the coolest moments I can remember in a long time. Whether you think his time in Calgary has been productive or not, how is a smiling Jagr in the Flaming C not awesome, even just a little bit?

Number one on this countdown isn’t a particular moment or date, though. It’s more a combination of what we’ve seen since Jagr’s signing became official on Oct. 4. His opening news conference was massive, the ovation when he scored his first goal on Nov. 9 was huge, and the merchandise sales might be the biggest winner of all. All of it combined has been surreal to witness.

Some believe Jagr’s time with the Flames has been a bust, while I’m in a different camp, because I think he’s been very effective. Unfortunately, a nagging lower body injury has kept Jagr out of Calgary’s lineup too often and has made his chance of passing Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record this season rather slim.

It might be for just one year and he might only play 50 games, but Jagr remains a living legend. That’s enough for me to put him number one on our 2017 Flames countdown.

  • Oilersruleflamesdrool

    Maybe bt needs to get fired he made this team what it is , And traded away your future picks . And jagr is an oldman nobody wanted but bt goes out and signs him and for what , So he can take up a roster spot for a kid that might be a diffrence maker ha . The writings on the wall lames bt blew your season.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      For all the “talent” the team up north has, and the longest winning streak of their season, they still are 25th in the league. Not exactly the contender that Chia bet the farm on by doing nothing in the summer. For all the bad games and bad play in December, the Flames are still a small win streak away from a Wild Card spot.

      BT bet a small fortune on having a top 5 defense to compete in the NHL. The pairings aren’t working out as expected, but the insistence on LHS-RHS pairs links him to Brodie. If Brodie was having a good year, then Hamonic is the problem, but it looks more like that is the worst pair together. Maybe, just maybe putting Brodie back with Gio is the right move. Put Hammie and Hammer together and let Hamonic simplify his game.

      When the Oilers actually accomplish something this year, then you can come and throw all the sticks you want. They haven’t.

  • Franko J

    They actually had 5. Go figure. What about the opposite? I think the game against Nashville was the most entertaining and exciting. One the handful of times this team displayed desperation, effort and execution and the coaching staff actually had the players attention.

  • The GREAT WW

    Top 5 worst moments of 2017;

    5. Jagr signing.
    4. Hamonic for unprotected first.
    3. Cameron still on team.
    2. Missing out on Gallant.
    1. GG still on team.

    WW

  • buts

    Top storey of 2017 is the fact that GG I saw still employed.We c can all see this……..How this is possible with us fans who have no pro experience says is that upper management is dysfunctional. It’s time to get rid of B.B., KK and possibly BT and bring in a bright hockey mind that wants a physical fast team.

  • Off the wall

    Top 5 moments of 2017:

    1. We beat the Ducks depleted, injured team to break the curse, only to have the curse return again.

    2. At least we haven’t played Vegas yet

    3. When your top 5 consists of last seasons 10 game winning streak, and looks like it won’t be repeated ever again

    4. Mike Smith and David Rittich goalie tandem

    5. Hoping for a miracle in 2018 and the waving goodbye to GG and Cameron

  • everton fc

    My Top 10 for 2017;

    1. Picking up Mike Smith
    2. The emergence of Rittich
    3. The emergence of Bennett-Jankowski-Hathaway
    4. Ferland as a 20+ goal scorer
    5. Kulak’s finally a regular

    My Bottom 10;

    1. The coaching staff/missing out on Gallant
    2. Brouwer
    3. Dumping our picks for Lazar/Hamonic
    4. Eddie Lack
    5. Jagr

  • 1- Kieth Tkachuck 2.0
    2- Kieth Tkachuck 2.0 baits a goon in to taking a ten game suspension
    3- Kieth Tkachuck 2.0
    4- Kieth Tkachuck 2.0 gets the shootout winning goal after spearing a Leafs player from the bench resulting in a one game suspension.
    5- Kieth Tkachuck 2.0 continues the family tradition of beating up Ryan Kessler.

  • Derzie

    3 of the top 5 listed are last season and the Jagr one is all based on nostalgia. That leaves winning in Anaheim as the lone highlight for this season. Sounds about right.

    Pat, I know that your job depends on the Flames but the media needs to take a more active role in improving this team. A brief perusal of this blog or Twitter reveals several common themes. You are a really smart hockey guy and I know you know and see the flaws. Media in big centers challenge their team. Here MSM never ruffle feathers. Everyone is friends. Lots of ‘that’s the way it goes’ or ‘it will get better soon’ type sentiments. How about starting with some simple questions like: why does Troy Brouwer get icetime over the farm players? Why is Bartkowski still on the team when we have depth on the farm? Why does the 4th line get more icetime than other lines? Easy peasy questions that they should have to answer. When people are comfortable, they don’t change. You guys are making the decision makers too comfortable.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    You know it has been a miserable year when your #1 moment was scraping a 45-year-old legend off the scrap heap and hoping he would turn back the clock. Now the hope is that the old fella can just stay healthy and play enough games to break Howe’s record. Gee, the promotion of individual goals ahead of team goals! That a sure sign of club that has lost its compass.

  • JoelOttosJock

    5. Trade Giordano before he losses all valur.
    4. Trade Brodie before other teams realize he is BAD!
    3. FIRE BT!
    2. FIRE GG!
    1. Matt Stajan is sent to Stockton at 999 games.

    Dare to dream.