Week 6 is in the books and this time it’s a much more positive and successful outlook for the Flames. Here’s 3 Things to look at from the past week.
The Flames have found their #1 goaltender and it’s not the guy they traded for on draft day. While the Flames and the fan base had high hopes for Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson is the player who has settled in to the top spot and it’s not really close. Calgary signed Johnson to a 1 year deal worth $1.7 million this off-season and it looks like the steal of the century. Johnson has started 6 of the Flames 10 games this month, including 4 straight, and has a record of 4-2-0. Brian Elliott has started the other 4 and finds himself at 0-4-0 and he’s given up 13 goals. Is there a chance that Elliott could get back in and go on a run? Sure, anything is possible, but right now the Flames need to ride the hot hand that is Chad Johnson. I don’t suggest that the Flames should run Johnson into the ground, but they also shouldn’t pull him just to get Elliott time. Wear and tear could be the thing that brings Johnson down as he’s never played more than 45 games (2015-16) in a season. But for now, it’s Chad Johnson’s job to lose and that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.
Who knows if it’s a reaction to the Johnny Gaudreau injury or the fact that Garnet Hathaway is in Calgary, but the Flames have really been throwing the body around lately. In the three games since the Gaudreau injury, the Flames have doled out 56 hits on it’s opponents. The usual suspects of Ferland, Tkachuk and Engelland are near the top, but Troy Brouwer has 6 hits over that time and Mikael Backlund is getting his hands dirty as well. Calgary also has 6 minutes in Roughing penalties and Deryk Engelland got 5 for fighting in the Minnesota game when Gaudreau was hurt. It could all just be coincidence and the Flames are finding who they are at the same time, but whatever it is, the Flames need to keep it up. They are constantly getting in scrums around the net and there’s a new attitude about the team that is fun to watch.
The Beast is the East
The Flames are 1 game into a 6 game swing through the Eastern Conference and they are 1-0. Calgary took down Detroit and they have Buffalo, Columbus, Boston, Philly and the Islanders left on the trip. The Flames longest stretch out East last season was 4 games, from February 29 to March 5 and they went 1-3. It’s never easy for teams to travel from coast to coast, but the Flames need this trip to be a success to stay afloat this season. Last year there was only 1 back to back, but this year finds the East coast swing with back to back’s at the front AND back end of the trip. The combined record of the teams left that the Flames will face is 40-35-14. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible.