THE STATS LINE
14-14-2 record [22nd overall (in points percentage)]
2.47 goals-for per game [23rd overall]
2.70 goals-against per game [16th overall]
15.2% power-play success rate [22nd overall]
82.6% penalty-kill success rate [17th overall]
44.8% in the face-off circle [30th overall]
THE WEEK THAT WAS
- December 8: The Flames edge Colorado 3-2 at home. Calgary’s power-play connected twice and Olli Jokinen scored the game-winner with less than five minutes left in regulation.
- December 10: The Flames shut down the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 at home. Jarome Iginla notched two goals (one of them an empty-netter) to bring his career goal total up to 495. Meanwhile, Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21 shots as the Flames shut down the free-wheeling Oilers.
- December 13: The Flames break their three-game winning streak with a 2-1 road loss to the Nashville Predators. The two clubs combined for 81 shots, and Pekka Rinne was slightly better than Miikka Kiprusoff, while the Flames were a bit flat in the first and third periods, and were consequently scored on in both of those periods.
The Calgary Flames are very suddenly 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and in the thick of playoff hunt. How can this be? Well, it turns out a couple things coincided; a string of games against teams like Edmonton, Colorado and Carolina, along with the club getting some much-needed momentum in those games.
As either a side-effect of this stretch, or perhaps the cause of it, the Flames suddenly aren’t quite so bad at special teams or face-offs. Granted, they are still not particularly great at face-offs (sitting dead-last in the NHL), but the individuals who take the face-offs are performing them better than they used to.
Let’s run the checklist:
- December 8 versus Colorado: Flames win more face-offs (54%), Flames get 14 shots on their power-play, Flames score twice on the power-play, Flames don’t give up any power-play goals….Flames win.
- December 10 versus Edmonton: Flames win more face-offs (51%), Flames get 9 shots on their power-play, Flames score once on the power-play, Flames don’t give up any power-play goals…Flames win.
- December 13 versus Nashville: Flames win less face-offs (46%), Flames get 0 shots on their power-play, Flames do not score on the power-play, Flames give up one power-play goal…Flames lose.
Through 30 games, the Flames seem to have a pretty good recipe for success. It’s just the question of executing consistently. Meanwhile, Jarome Iginla was named the NHL’s First Star of the past week, scoring six points over the preceding three games. Somehow, it seems likely that Iginla’s great play and the team’s success were related.
THE FLU! AND RECALLS!
A flu bug tore through the Flames locker room this week, with Curtis Glencross, Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque each missing a game due to illness. Reportedly Glencross and Tanguay each lost around 10 pounds due to the flu. It’s a nasty bug.
In the meantime, the team also shuffled around some players. Roman Horak was sent down to Abbotsford to play a couple games. Greg Nemisz was brought up for a game to cover for a flu-ridden Alex Tanguay, then returned to the minors. Brett Carson was brought back to Calgary following a four-game conditioning stint in Abbotsford. Carson finally made his season debut against Nashville after missing the first 29 games due to a back injury suffered over the summer.
DISPATCHES FROM THE FARM
- AHL: Despite losing possibly the league’s best goalie to a call-up, the Abbotsford Heat keep chugging along. They have a 18-8-1 record for 37 points. They’re third in the very competitive West Division, but their record also places them third in the entire AHL. Goalie Danny Taylor has been great in net since being signed. While the whole team struggled offensively last season, the opposite is almost as true this year. Nobody scored at more than a 0.5 point per game pace last year. This season? Krys Kolanos (23 points in 18 games), Jon Rheault (20 in 27), Greg Nemisz (18 in 26), Ben Walter (18 in 27), Clay Wilson (16 in 27), Brendan Mikkelson & Dustin Sylvester (14 in 27) are at more than that pace.
- NCAA: Boston College is 9-4-0 in conference play, 12-6-0 overall. Bill Arnold has 20 points in 18 games (he leads all sophomores) and Johnny Gaudreau has 14 points in 18 games, tied for the freshman lead.
- WHL: Michael Ferland and Max Reinhart were sent home from Hockey Canada’s selection camp and returned to their junior clubs. Ferland has 44 points in 30 games with Brandon, while Reinhart has 37 points in 27 games with Kootenay. While it’s disappointing that they won’t get to represent Canada at the World Juniors, they’re both on pace to have tremendous seasons.