THE STATS LINE
10-12-1 record [25th overall (in points percentage)]
2.22 goals-for per game [28th overall]
2.61 goals-against per game [17th overall]
12.7% power-play success rate [27th overall]
80.2% penalty-kill success rate [24th overall]
THE WEEK THAT WAS
- November 25: The Flames continued their four-game road odyssey with a 2-0 setback in St. Louis. The team played well, peppering Blues netminder Brian Elliott with 24 shots. But, alas, Elliott was sharp and the Flames were shut-out for the third time this season.
- November 27: Bouncing back from losses in their previous three games (and a prior 2-0 shutout by the Wild), the Flames went into Minnesota and beat the hometown team 5-2. In many ways, the bounces that didn’t go their way in previous games came back in bunches: several odd bounces turned into Flames goals, including T.J. Brodie’s first NHL marker.
- November 29: Building upon their previous game, the Flames played 60 solid minutes of calm, collected hockey and bested the Nashville Predators 1-0 in Calgary. Rookie Derek Smith scored his first NHL goal (on a beauty of a set-up by T.J. Brodie) to give the Flames their tenth win of the campaign. But the game wasn’t without a loss, as alternate captain Mark Giordano went down with a reported hamstring injury mid-way through the first period and did not return.
ROAD TRIP ROUND-UP
The Flames returned home on Monday following a four-game road trip. The team went 1-3-0 over the stretch. But while the team didn’t produce a lot in the standings, arguably only their game against the Blue Jackets was a stinker of an effort. The club got bit by a bad third period in Detroit and a hot goalie in St. Louis, and were only able to convert their visit to Minnesota into points in the standings.
Despite the poor results in the standings, the team got a bit of a chance to bond when they visited the St. Louis area home of defenseman Chris Butler. Butler’s parents hosted the entire team for Thanksgiving dinner.
“It was awesome,” reflected Butler on the meal. “I think everyone had a good time. For me, it was nice to be home for the holiday, to be around family. We had some cousins in town, so that was always nice. Like I said, everyone was well-fed and things kind of went off perfectly for my family.”
The Flames Thanksgiving meal just happened to take place at one of the more arduous points of the schedule, a month of November that saw the club play 14 games in 30 days (including a 5 game in 9 day stretch). Butler shared that the group seemed to enjoy the short break.
“It was a nice mental break for everybody,” shared Butler. “A lot of us just sat in the basement, ate a lot of food and watched some football games. It was nice to unwind, but at the same time to kind of do it together in a real relaxed environment.”
COMEAU HEADS WEST
The Flames changed up their roster a bit during the road trip. The New York Islanders placed forward Blake Comeau on waivers and the Flames picked him up, bringing the Saskatchewan native a lot closer to home than he was previously. Comeau noted the entire transaction happened in a hurry.
“I was sitting by the phone for three hours that morning waiting to hear where I was going, if I was going anywhere,” said Comeau. “I got the phone call, found out I had a flight in three hours, so basically it’s just pack up, grab your hockey bag, go to the airport and next thing you know I’m in St. Louis playing.”
Comeau noted that going to place where he knows some guys and has family definitely helps. His parents and sister live in Calgary and were in attendance when he made his Flames home debut against the Predators.
“Obviously I know [Tim] Jackman from the Islanders. Scott Hannan lives in Kelowna, where I live in the summer-time, so I’ve known him for quite a long time,” said Comeau.
WORLD JUNIORS APPROACH
As the Flames chug along with their season, they do so knowing that they will be on the road a lot in the month of December. The culprit? The fact that Calgary and Edmonton are hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship around Christmas, leaving the Flames and the Oilers to hit the road for most of December.
Despite the fact that his club will be on the road a lot, Flames centre Mikael Backlund is excited for this year’s edition of the World Juniors. Backlund played for Sweden at the 2008 and 2009 championships, winning a pair of silver medals, and is excited to see how the tournament plays out this year.
“It’s one of the biggest moments of the year when you’re that age and get to play in that tournament,” said Backlund. “I had a lot of fun both years. A lot of excitement going on, a lot of passion. A lot of young guys want to show how good they are and take the next step forward in their development.”
Flames prospects Max Reinhart (Canada), Michael Ferland (Canada), Markus Granlund (Finland), Bill Arnold (United States) and Sven Baertschi (Switzerland) are expected to push for roster spots on their respective national teams. If all make it, it would be the most Flame representation at the tournament in several years.
MOVES, MOVES, MOVES
There were a few moves for the Flames during the past week.
In order to make room to claim Blake Comeau off waivers, the team assigned rookie forward Paul Byron to Abbotsford of the AHL. General manager Jay Feaster said in the club’s press release that he hoped to bring Byron back to the NHL soon.
Next, the Flames placed Mark Giordano on injury reserve and assigned Brett Carson to the AHL on a conditioning stint. The club also waived forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, presumably with the intention of assigning him to the AHL. Unless Calgary recalls a defenseman from Abbotsford, Cory Sarich will take Giordano’s spot in the line-up. The roster moves would leave the Flames with 21 healthy bodies in town.