Flames Weekly offers a look at how the Calgary Flames performed in the previous week. Be sure to check in every Monday for my take on the week that was and to find out which storylines and players took center stage. Feel free to use the comment section below to let me know how you thought the team performed or post any ideas or questions about the Flames.
With only two games played back-to-back early in the week, it wasn’t a strenuous seven days for the boys in red, but the two big wins definitely kept the team’s mojo going strong heading into the All-Star break. This is a squad that is on a nice roll, having won five of six after going a disastrous 3-7-0 in their previous 10 contests.
Flames’ First Comeback Win of the Season a Real Doozy
You could forgive me for thinking the Flames’ game against the Dallas Stars was over heading into the third period. Down 3-1, the visiting squad didn’t have a lot of pep in their step after watching their hosts score three consecutive goals after Calgary jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Adding to my assumption of a pending loss was the fact that the boys in red had an 0-9-1 record when trailing after two periods. And finally, when an ice-cold backup Dan Vladar was trotted out to start the final 20 minutes in relief of Jacob Markstrom, I was 100% convinced this game was a goner.
That’s why I was completely floored when Calgary mounted an epic comeback with a little over five minutes left in regulation. First, Andrew Mangiapane scored his 20th of the season to draw the Flames within one. Then just 40 seconds later, Johnny Gaudreau buried his 18th of the year to tie it 3-3. And the icing on the cake? An incredible three-way passing play that sealed the victory just seconds after killing off a late penalty.
Oliver Kylington jumped out of the penalty box to join a 3-on-2 rush with Rasmus Andersson and Elias Lindholm, who saw the trio exchange an incredible five passes in less than three seconds to stun the Stars and complete the comeback. After the game, associate coach Kirk Muller summed it up quite nicely: “I think someone said, ‘the only thing better than a win is a comeback win,’” he told the media. “We don’t have a lot of those this year.” Actually, the Flames have exactly one of them now, and it was a doozy.
Tanev’s 4-Point Night Leads Flames over Coyotes
Now there’s a headline I never thought I’d ever have to write. While Chris Tanev could be described as one of the league’s better shutdown defencemen, I know for a fact that he’s never been called an offensive juggernaut. But that’s exactly what he was in the Flames 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. In a game that the Flames dominated from start to finish, the ‘Yotes hung around in this contest, keeping it close at 2-2 before Tanev put the visitors up for good late in the second frame.
Tanev picked up points on every Flames scoring play, finishing the night with one goal and three helpers in Calgary’s 4-2 win. It was a career-high for points for the second-year Flame, making him just the seventh defenceman in franchise history to record at least one goal and three assists in a game. He joins Al MacInnis, Gary Sutter, Randy Manery, Barry Gibbs, Paul Reinhart, and Mark Giordano.
Another Flame who had a great night on the scoresheet was Blake Coleman. Criticized by some fans for a sluggish offensive start to his tenure in Calgary, the newcomer has been on fire lately. Including his two goals and an assist against the Coyotes, Coleman now has seven points in his last eight games.
Johnny Gaudreau Jokes About Lack of Defence at All-Star Weekend
As the Flames’ lone representative at the NHL All-Star game in Las Vegas, all eyes from the C of Red were on the team’s leading point-getter this past weekend. This was the sixth time in eight seasons that Gaudreau got the nod to represent Calgary, and the 5-foot-9 dynamo looked like he was enjoying every minute of it. On Friday night, “Johnny Hockey” took part in the skills competition and finished a respectable fifth place in the shooting accuracy competition.
On Saturday afternoon, the Pacific Division star was mic’d up while on the bench and the ice. After his team went down 3-1 early to the Metropolitan division squad, Gaudreau lamented both his team’s lack of defencemen and his personal lack of skill on the back end.
During the broadcast, Gaudreau could be heard telling the Sportsnet TV crew: “I think we’re in trouble… we only have one defenceman.” Later in the game, the speedy forward was forced into full defensive mode and sounded like he wasn’t quite ready for the responsibility. “Oh God, here we go! I don’t know what I’m doing back here… nope, not my game.” While the Pacific division team dropped their match 6-5 and failed to advance to the finals, the Flames’ All-Star did manage an assist on Timo Meier’s goal, giving him five goals and six assists in six career appearances in the 3-on-3 format.
The Week’s Winners and Losers
With only two games on the docket before the All-Star break, the Flames had a pretty light schedule but fear not. There was no shortage of storylines to follow, so let’s dive in and see who made the biggest impressions, positive or negative.
- The week kicked off with more good news for Gaudreau, as the Flames leading scorer was recognized by the league for his recent heroics and named the NHL’s third star of week. The shifty winger had two goals and six assists in four games, including Calgary’s only goal in their 1-0 OT victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The first and second stars of the week were Nazim Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche (three goals, five assists) and and Frederik Andersen of the Carolina Hurricanes who posted a 3-0-0 record on the week with a .938 SV%. Congrats Johnny!
- Those of you who are faithful readers of Flames Weekly, you know that I’ve written a fair bit about Milan Lucic. You’ll also know that I often refer to the gritty winger as a “big galoot.” I can’t believe I’m writing this, but while the team was in Dallas, the Flames’ 6-foot-3 forward met up with someone who made him look downright… shrimpy. Over the past two years, Calgary’s big man has become friends with an even bigger man – NBA player Boban Marjanovic, who stands 7-foot-4. When Lucic brought several teammates to meet up with the Dallas Maverick center, the resulting photos were amazing. Whose idea was it to put 5-foot-10 Mangiapane next to a literal giant? Bravo!
- To say this has been a disappointing year for Juuso Välimäki would be a huge understatement. After signing a $3.1 million contract extension in the offseason and making the team out of training camp, the young Finn only played eight games for the Flames before being relegated to the press box as a healthy scratch. After he complained to Finnish media about not playing, he soon found himself sent down to the farm club in Stockton. After a handful of American Hockey League starts, a lower body injury kept Välimäki out of the Heat’s lineup for a couple of weeks. At his first game back, the 23-year-old defenceman was handed a three-game suspension for physical abuse of an official. What a year. I bet the Flames 2017 first round pick can’t wait for his 2021-22 campaign to end so he can start fresh next season.
- Last week, I wrote that there seemed to be some good news about the never-ending arena deal saga. The City of Calgary is hoping the addition of a neutral third party to the negotiations will smooth out the process, but the NHL commissioner is still playing the blame game. When asked at the All-Star game about the collapse of the deal between the Flames and the city, Gary Bettman didn’t mince his words: “Well, now that the deal’s off, everybody’s a free agent. I think the club feels OK about that because the deal kept changing on them… the deal kept getting more and more expensive and, frankly, wasn’t what they had agreed to, and, at some point, you have to say, ‘enough is enough.’”
- Congratulations are in order, as the Flames’ head coach marked a major milestone. After his team won back-to-back games this past week, Darryl Sutter now has 145 career wins as Calgary’s bench boss, passing Terry Crisp for third in coaching wins in franchise history. Still ahead of Sutter are Hall of Famer “Badger” Bob Johnson (193) and longtime Atlanta coach Fred Creighton (156).
Flames Week Ahead
The Flames begin a seven-game homestand in which they’ll be playing a bunch of the games that were rescheduled due to COVID-19 protocols or arena capacity restrictions. On Wednesday, the boys in red entertain the top team in the Pacific division, the Vegas Golden Knights. The next night, Calgary hosts another elite team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The week wraps up with a third game in four nights when Calgary takes on the New York Islanders Saturday night. If you think this schedule is tough, get used to it! The Flames will pretty much play every second night until the end of the regular season.
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Greg Tysowski is a former broadcast journalist who chose the exciting life of a stay-at-home dad for over a decade. He’s now a published author, parenting blogger and aspiring sports writer covering the Calgary Flames for The Hockey Writers. Greg is also a regular contributor to the weekly roundtable discussion “Flames Faceoff”, now streaming on YouTube and all podcast outlets.