Week 2 is in the books and the Flames put together a little run winning 3 in a row. Things seem to be falling into place for the Flames on a few fronts and we’ll examine them in this week’s edition of:
1) Brian Elliott has settled in. Elliott’s first 2 starts of the season were a nightmare on many different levels, but that seems to be behind the goaltender now. Elliott took back the #1 goalie mantle over the past week and shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder again this season. He compiled a record of 3-1 over the past week and only allowed 7 goals on 118 shots. At the start of the week Elliott’s Save % was .839 and after the Flames loss to Washington he stands at .898. While the Flames and Elliott would like that to be higher, it’s steady improvement and his GAA has dropped from 4.72 to 2.99.
2) Power Play. The power play still isn’t anything to get excited over, but like everything over the past week, it has shown some improvement. Calgary came into the week DEAD last in the NHL at a pathetic 4%. Yes, you read that correctly. 4%. After their 3-1 loss to Washington Sunday night, the PP is 27th in the league at 10.8%. Not great, but getting “better.” At the week’s conclusion Calgary was 3-12 on the PP, getting 2 power play goals against the Blackhawks and 1 against the Blues. Prior to this week the Flames were 1-25, so in the “glass half full/glass is shattered in pieces” theory, we’ll take the 1⁄2 full approach. Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim await the Flames this week and they rank 30th, 11th and 13th on the penalty kill respectively. Chicago could be the opponent that the Flames PP gets a boost on as the good guys were 2-5 when man up the last time they played.
3) Last week I likened Glen Gultuzan to a Vegas card dealer. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. Well that appears to be a thing of the past (we hope). The Flames seem to have settled in to a lineup that is really working for them. Matthew Tkachuk has been added back into to the lineup and Nicklas Grossmann has been banished to the press box. Brett Kulak seemed to get the short end of the stick, but as much as it kills me to type it, Dennis Wideman hasn’t hurt the Flames since he’s be re-inserted into the lineup. While the pairings may fluctuate from game to game, the personnel has stayed the same. These 18 skaters are what got the Flames on their hot streak and their goaltending has been stellar. Gulutzan has also paired Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund up again and that combo is paying dividends (3 points combined over the 4 games) and Sam Bennett seems to be flourishing while playing with Brouwer and Versteeg. Bennett had 3 goals and an assist this past week. Now if they can just leave everything as is and keep riding this current lineup, maybe the Flames can reel off another streak and keep climbing in the West.