At the beginning of the year, the Calgary Flames and the Philadelphia Flyers were sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum, but it wasn’t the way analysts and fans alike would have predicted. The normally soaring Flyers won only 3 of their first 12 games in the month of October, while their all-star captain Claude Giroux found himself in a goalless drought for his first 16 games of the season.
The Calgary Flames, however, surprised the league with their high-energy play, grit and the prolific scoring of their younger players.
Three months later, it seems everything is back to where it should be.
The Flyers visited Calgary on the last day of 2013 looking to extend their win streak to four. And Giroux, who had been having one hell of a December (19 points in 13 games) was hoping to improve those stats.
They did just that, as Calgary was unable to remedy their scoring woes once again. In under five minutes of the first, Mark Streit’s wrist shot, assisted by Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, got the Flyers on the board. Of the Flames’ seven shots on goal, none made it past a solid-looking Ray Emery.
Still looking to get back his stride after an explosive first half of the season, Sean Monahan notched the equalizer for the Flames just over the midway mark of the second period.
Sadly for the home team, the goal horn stopped sounding in their favour for the rest of the game.
Brayden Schenn put the Flyers back in the lead just four minutes after Monahan’s goal, and Philadelphia kept on rolling in the final frame. The Schenn brothers combined for assists on Scott Hartnell’s tip-in goal at the 10:14 marker, and with the Flames’ net empty as the seconds died down on the clock, Braydon Coburn sealed the deal with an empty-netter.
The Flames outscored the Flyers 24-21, and their meagre goal count was certainly not from a lack of trying, but never the less, they lost their third in a row by a final score of 4-1.
The Macedonian Assassin may not have been in the lineup but that didn’t stop the Tampa Bay Lightning from firing a barrage of pucks at Karri Ramo. On the other end of the ice, the league’s third ranked goalie in wins, said no to every attempt from the Calgary Flames to get themselves into the game.
In the end, the Bolts topped the Flames 2-0, giving Ben Bishop his fourth shutout of the season. But if two-time Rocket Richard winner Steven Stamkos had not been out with a broken leg, who knows what the final tally would have been?
The first period was simply a battle to put the puck in net for both teams, although Tampa Bay more than doubled the Flames’ shots on goal.
The second saw a little more action, as Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov managed to beat Ramo twice before the period rounded out.
The final 20 minutes was once again lopsided in terms of shots on goal (Tampa led 10-6), but thankfully for the Flames, the Bolts’ were not able to get any into the Calgary net.
The lack of offense has now taken over the top spot in the list of the Calgary Flames’ troubles. Losses can no longer be blamed on the struggles of the varying starting goaltenders, but on the numbers of pucks making it to the back of the net, despite the many scoring chances had by the Flames. They have only scored 22 regulation goals in the entire month of December and have been shut out four times in their last ten games.
The Calgary Flames have a chance to turn their offensive troubles around as they travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Monday, January 6th.
Graduate of Mount Royal University’s Journalism program and a freelance sports writer from Calgary, Alberta.