141-87-29. That's the combined record of the teams the Calgary Flames are staring down to finish out 2015. The NHL schedule makers have not been kind to the Flames this holiday season, but their early season stumbles, while frustrating, haven't buried them in the standings yet. YET being the key word.
The Flames are on hot streak as of late winning 4 in a row and 8 straight at home. During the 4 game win streak they've out scored their opponents 17-12 and 29-18 over the 8 games at the Dome. The month of December reads like this:
St. Louis Blues
Detroit Red Wings
Yes, that gauntlet does seem daunting, but it's not impossible. The home streak will be put to the test immediately with the Rangers in town Saturday night. Calgary lost to NY 4-1 on October 25th and NY doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. They've also lost to Winnipeg and Anaheim and split so far with the Oilers. Calgary has to be looking at the Anaheim game with a sigh of relief. Anaheim isn't playing up to their potential and the Flames get them at home instead of the house of horrors that is the Honda Center. The away dates aren't easy by any stretch, but the Flames are 2-1 against Dallas, St. Louis and Detroit (they have yet to play the Preds).
Yes, that's a who's who of possible playoff teams the Flames have to go through to finish out 2015, but let's not sell the Flames short here. Calgary is really starting to put it together during this little 4 game streak. Their best players are ramping it up and Thursday's game against Buffalo showed that. The Flames best players so far this month? Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Dougie Hamilton and TJ Brodie. And those are exactly who they need to get going. Monahan has 4 points in his last 4 games and is really planting himself out front doing the dirty work. Gaudreau has 5 points in his last 4, saving his heroics for late in the game. Hamilton has 3 points in his last 4 and is starting to look more like the player Calgary thought they were getting from Boston. Brodie's been the facilitator with his 4 game point streak coming in the form of assists.
Stats are great, but the eye test also tells you how well the Flames are playing. Colborne continues to skate hard. Bouma return should be on the horizon. Granlund clicked with Hudler and has really been playing well since his call up. Ramo appeared to be settling in until his bout with illness. He's up to 9-8. His GAA has dropped to an even 3.00 and his Save % is up to .900.
There's no better time for Calgary to be getting hot. They are lumped in at the bottom of the West, but they're only 3 points behind the Sharks for 3rd place in the Pacific. There is time, but the Flames can't get complacent. The start to this season was very uneven and at times they looked like they hadn't played together before. The last 4 games have shown what Calgary can do when they put it all together and they'll need it with that schedule bearing down on them. And to think, they still have a chance to go on a run EVEN with their PK and PP both ranked 30th. Imagine if they can flip that around?