Flames Weekly: Perfect 4-Game Road Trip Solidifies Pacific Division Lead

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.

Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames Weekly

Right on the heels of one of their worst weeks of the season, the Flames bounced back with a clean sweep of the California teams, and a convincing win against the expansion Seattle Kraken. The last seven days had something for everyone: “Johnny Enforcer” made an appearance, an unlikely hero stepped up in Anaheim, and the middle six forwards made their presence known. It all added up to a perfect week that saw the boys in red increase their lead in the Pacific Division.

Gaudreau Adds “Tough Guy” to His Resume in Important 3-2 Win Over Kings

Heading into last Monday’s tilt in Los Angeles, the Flames were sliding, having lost three in a row for the first time since early January. Calgary needed a quick start, and it got one — how does 10 seconds into the game sound? Johnny Gaudreau capitalized on a bad clearing attempt from Cal Peterson and banked in a shot from the corner right into the Kings net.

It was all part of an impressive three-point night from the probable Hart Trophy nominee, who scored twice and set up Elias Lindholm for the Flames’ second goal. But, what really got everyone’s tongues wagging was his expert takedown of the Kings’ Sean Durzi during a massive scrum late in the first period.

“I’m pretty strong, I think.” He joked after the game. “When the guy isn’t looking, I’m pretty strong.”

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The uncharacteristically nasty move sent Calgary’s leading scorer into the box for roughing. Had the scuffle turned into a fight – it would have been his first ever “Gordie Howe hat trick”.

Stone Plays the Hero in 500th Career Game, Flames Finally Solve the Sharks

Second pairing defenseman Oliver Kylington was still on the shelf before Wednesday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. As such, Michael Stone found himself back in the lineup for the seventh time this season, however, it was also a milestone game that saw the journeyman defender suit up for the 500th time in his NHL career. Stone may not be an offensive powerhouse on the back end, but he definitely has the hardest shot on the team. The veteran blueliner leaned into a huge blast midway through the third frame that ended up being the game winner, earning him the second star of the game.

Stone’s first of the season gave the visitors a 3-1 lead, but it was great goaltending by Jacob Markstrom that secured the 4-2 victory. Speaking of the big Swede, Markstrom finally got some much needed rest the next night in San Jose. Dan Vladar got his first start in 11 games, and the young Czech made the most of it by stopping 31 of 33 en route to a 4-2 victory over the Sharks. It was the Flames’ first win over San Jose in four tries this season, meanwhile, Gaudreau continued his tear, notching his 98th and 99th points of the season.

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The California road trip sweep was a historic one, as this was the first-ever time the Flames have swept the Kings, Ducks and Sharks in succession. In the 29 years since the Mighty Ducks entered the NHL in 1993-94 (making it three teams from the Golden State) Calgary has made this roadie 19 times. Until this past week, 2-0-1 was its best record, set back in 1994-95.

Flames’ Middle Six Steals the Show in Seattle

As the Flames wrapped up their west coast road trip in Seattle, all eyes were on Gaudreau. Calgary’s leading scorer had a chance to reach 100 points for the first time in his eight-year NHL career, but it was the team’s middle six that stole the show against the Kraken. Blake Coleman only has a single goal since March 5, but a nifty redirection off a Noah Hanifin point shot got him off the schneid and the Flames on the board. After the Kraken tied the game at one goal a piece just a minute later, Trevor Lewis scored a hardworking tally late in the frame to give the visitors a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Lewis’ sixth of the season was also his second marker in his last two games. Not to be outdone, Stone unloaded another cannon from the point just as the Flames’ second period power play came to an end to score his second goal of the 2021-22 campaign. Tyler Toffoli potted an empty netter to notch his 20th of the season and just like that, Calgary secured eight points and a stranglehold on the Pacific division lead.

The Week’s Winners and Losers

It was a very busy week, as the boys in red suited up four times in six nights while entering the home stretch of the 2021-22 schedule. There was no shortage of storylines to follow, so let’s dive in and see who made the biggest impressions, whether they were positive or negative.

  • Stone wasn’t the only Flame to mark a major milestone this week, as Lewis suited up for his 800th NHL game when Calgary faced off against the Ducks. The gritty forward looked back on his career after the morning skate at the Honda Center prior to Wednesday’s tilt.
  • “Whoever thought a kid from Utah would play 800?” Lewis grinned. “It’s pretty cool to think about, but it’s a pretty big game for us tonight, too, so you’ve got to get ready the same way.” 
  • Dustin Wolf just keeps getting better and has a lot of Flames fans heralding him as the franchise’s goalie of the future. The Stockton Heat hotshot broke the franchise record for wins in a season by a netminder last week, then became the first American Hockey League (AHL) rookie goalie to reach 29 wins since Juuse Saros did it in 2015-16. Wolf is having a terrific campaign and currently sits third in the league in save percentage, but somehow he’s still looking for his first professional shutout.
Dustin Wolf Calgary Flames
Dustin Wolf, Calgary Flames (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)
  • Last Monday, city council’s event center committee met for the first time to restart negotiations for a new arena deal to replace the failed agreement. However, for whatever the reason, the committee is still refusing to reveal the identity of the third party who has been tapped to facilitate this transaction. I understand that someone has indeed been selected, and has been doing some prep work, but the paperwork has not been finalized for them to officially begin the role. Who is this mystery person? May 4 is the next scheduled meeting, so keep your fingers crossed we’ll get the “great reveal”.

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  • While Gaudreau missed out on hitting the 100-point plateau on Saturday night, he’s still on pace for 113 this season. If he reaches that lofty height, the Flames’ current leading scorer will be second all-time in franchise history behind Kent Nilsson’s 131 points from 1980-81, and just ahead of Joe Mullen’s 110 in 1988-89. If the crafty winger can keep up his current pace, he will also pass the likes of Theo Fleury, Al MacInnis, Mike Bullard, Hakan Loob, Guy Chouinard and Bob MacMillan. I say he does it.
  • While we’re on the topic of making franchise history, the Flames did just that with Thursday’s win over the Sharks. For the first time since the 1990-91 season (and the first time since the NHL expanded to 21 teams) Calgary has earned points against every other team in the league. The boys in red earned a whopping seven points against Anaheim this year, but just single points against Carolina, Montreal and Nashville. They’re the first team in the league to pull off this impressive feat during the 2021-22 campaign.

Flames’ Week Ahead

Calgary will kick off the next seven days with another tilt against the Seattle Kraken at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night. After that, the Vegas Golden Knights pay the Flames a visit on Thursday, and then the week wraps up on Saturday when the last place Arizona Coyotes are in town. I don’t want to jinx the boys in red, but none of these opponents are playoff teams, so I’d love to see another perfect week.