You may be aware that today is Monday, not Sunday, and that I usually do my piece here on Sunday. But the only way you notice that is if you're me. So let's move on, shall we?
It's been another fun week in Calgary Flames hockey. 2-0-1 is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it nets you a probably short lived peek at what it means to be a playoff team (8th place, y'all!), and really, if you're going to go on a run, now is the time to do it. I read a blog earlier this week by the incomparable Matt Fenwick about how teams just kinda get good as the season goes along in spite of all the logical and well laid out stats those of us in the blog community continue to use to explain why that particular team should be getting their lunch handed to them. Right now that team is the Calgary Flames, and instead of trying to figure out why the team is as close to the playoffs as they are, let's just hold on and enjoy the ride. They may get over the hump, or this whole thing could blow up in our faces, but it's pretty exciting right now one way or the other.
And the contributions have come rolling in. Different players in different games of late have been stepping up and pushing this inexplicable run forward, and a lot of them deserve mention. Including this week's Flame who did stuff the least bad. And that guy is...(hint: while it SHOULD be Miikka Kiprusoff, it SHOULD be Miikka Kiprusoff every week, and this would be boring, so it's not him)
(OK, so I'm doing some shameless plugging and borrowing this image I created of a murder of Kostopouli from my own blog to honour our good buddy Tom Kostopoulos)
This may come as a bit of a surprise to you. Trust me, even now I can't believe I'm picking Special K.
I thought hard about it though, and I feel he's worthy of the spot. Tommy Boy played 3 games this week on the second line , a role he's likely never played in his 10 year NHL career. Thrust into second line service from some pretty debilitating injuries from the team's core, Kostopoulos didn't look too out of place most of the time on a wing with Mike Cammalleri, who suddenly seems to be finding his game, and the also kinda new to bigger minutes Blake Comeau.
To say he was an offensive juggernaut in his new job would be beyond far fetched, but to say your Calgary Flames in general have been offensively gifted this year is equally laughable. Indeed, Kostopoulos had but one point this week, but it did come off of a pretty important game winning goal scored by Cammy on Saturday in Los Angeles that cemented the victory and leapfrogged the Flames into the 8th spot which only weeks ago seemed like an impossible dream.
In three games, Tommy K averaged over 16 minutes of ice time, well up from his just under 12 minute average ice time for the season, and had 6 shots in those 3 games, again up slightly from his season average. Nothing spectacular of course, but considering he's a 4th line minute guy who's there to check guys and occasionally make someone bleed for running the goalie, the fact that he was able to hang in there and not look out of place in more time with far greater responsibility is worth a mention. And, with dubious logic, when you collect points in all of those games, clearly at the very least having him in that role wasn't a bad idea.
Obviously you want your core guys to return from injury and not have to rely on a career checker to be counted on offensively (again, with only one point in the three games, offense was not something they expected from him), but it's nice to know that Kostopoulos has been around the block enough as a pro to know what to do in these unfortunate circumstances where he has to be asked to do this. Because we're all pretty acutely aware at this point that we can't count on Matt Stajan to do the same thing.
So, much like that now immortal cat, precariously, eternally stuck struggling to not fall off that tree branch, we salute you, Tom Kostopoulos, for so deftly Hangin' In There all week and not making the coaching staff look like the rubes we all secretly (or not so secretly) suspect that they are. That alone makes you worthy of this week's edition of the Al "Wool" Coates Coat, awarded to the Flame that did good enough this week to not screw up. Or something. I've never really remembered what this thing is truly meant to represent.
This Week in Young Gun:
February 19th, 1999: An offensive explosion erupts at the Pengrowth Saddledome, as doomed Calgary Flames uberforward Theoren Fleury pots his 28th and 29th goals of the season in a 6-3 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, easily the dumbest name with the dumbest name format in the history of pro sports.
Teemu Selanne, in shades of things to probably come never ever again, as he's not a very good player, scored his 27th goal for the Ducks, and will probably never reach such offensive heights like that again or win a Stanley Cup, because have you seen that helmet he wears? Ha!
For the Young Guns, a name truly accurate and deserving of a team to finish so far out of the playoffs, the game was highlighted by a monster performance by Ken Wregget, who was obviously in his prime, and the first goal by Bob Bassen. Presumably ever. Stereo goals also scored by perennial disappointments Jason Weimer and Cale Hulse, who was unfortunately not accompanied by wife Gina Lee Nolin at the time bookended the win for the Flames. Also, haha, Ed Ward, I never get tired of that name.