For the past several seasons, the Calgary Flames have carved out a reputation for themselves as being one of the National Hockey League’s better road teams. Maybe it’s getting away from the hustle and bustle of a Canadian hockey market. Maybe it’s simplifying their approach when they don’t control line match-ups. But the Flames lived up to their reputation during their latest trip, playing some pretty strong hockey and taking three games on their four game trek.
The capper was a 6-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, the Flames’ third regular season victory in the building dating back to 2004 and only their 11th since the Ducks entered the league.
Following the win in Anaheim, Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward praised his group’s response following a somewhat shoddy game in Los Angeles.
“We got some timely scoring early, but I liked the response from our guys,” said Ward. “We talked about how important it was to come out and play a solid first period, get into the game early, and I thought the guys did a good job of that.”
Cam Talbot earned his first shutout as a member of the Flames. He made 44 saves, but Ward liked the defensive effort in front of his netminder.
“I don’t care about any shots from the outside, as long as there’s a lot from the outside of the ice,” explained Ward. “We’re concerned about what’s coming from the inside. A lot of the shots were coming from the outside. I didn’t think we were in that much trouble. I think we had them at 13 scoring chances or something. If you can keep a team at this time of year to around that number, you’re doing some pretty good things away from the puck.”
When he spoke with the media, Talbot had similar praise for the play in front of him. Natural Stat Trick’s high danger scoring chances metric, which is the closest we have in the public realm to what the Flames seem to count as scoring chances, had the Flames ahead 12-10.
Cam Talbot turned aside a career-high 44 saves in a shutout performance. The last @NHLFlames goaltender with more saves in a shutout: Dan Bouchard on April 2, 1975 (w/ AFM). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/Nuvuz4nSwb
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 14, 2020
It’s only three games (out of four), but perhaps it’s a sign that the team has finally taken a step towards consistency. We’ll find out if their strong play follows them home when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday evening.
Flames fix their goal differential (mostly)
When the Flames left for Vancouver a week ago, the Flames had a goal differential of minus-20. After scoring 21 goals over four games and only allowing nine, the Flames have improved their differential to minus-8. It’s still the worst of the West’s playoff teams, but it’s a big improvement.
The Swedes erupt, mostly
The Flames have a strong Swedish tradition dating back to Kent Nilsson and Hakan Loob. The Swedish contingent’s offense was front and center against Anaheim:
- Vasteras’ Mikael Backlund scored two goals.
- Boden’s Elias Lindholm scored once.
- Stockholm’s Oliver Kylington scored as well.
The lone Swedish holdout on the Flames roster without a goal against Anaheim? Malmo’s Rasmus Andersson, though he was plus-four with an assist in nearly 23 minutes of ice time.
Alas, Andersson’s performance wasn’t enough to shelter him from a chirp from Backlund, a proud Swede (and captain of Sweden’s recent World Championship team):
#Flames C Mikael Backlund couldn’t resist a friendly shot at D Rasmus Andersson — the only Swede without a goal in 6-0 win in Anaheim: “We all scored. He’s Danish. It’s all good — all the Swedes scored.”
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) February 14, 2020