Hello Mr. Backlund! What a week the Flames centre had to finish up the New Year. The Swedish product had 5 points in 3 games this week, which followed his 3 point ending to last week. Totaling everything up, Backlund has 8 points in his last 4 games. This week started with a bizarro 3 point effort in Colorado where both of his goals deflected off of Colorado players. It continued in Anaheim where he scored the Flames lone goal of the game and last night he got Calgary’s 4th and final goal of the contest against Arizona. Backlund started the season off hot points wise, but he struggled with goal as he piled up assists. He had 10 points (3G 7A) as November came to an end. Then the calendar turned. Backlund has exploded in December to the tune of 14 points (8G 6A)! Backlund had three 3 point games in the month and he’s been leading the Flames offence all the way. Can Mikael Backlund keep up this pace? It remains to be seen, but if history is any indicator, he usually gets hot after the New Year and that would be a huge bonus for the Flames as they try to hold on to a playoff spot in the West.
The PK Streak Comes To An End
The Flames PK had killed 18 straight penalties coming into Thursday night’s showdown with the Anaheim Ducks and that streak was put to rest. The Ducks put home two PP goals in their 3-1 win, but not all is lost. The Flames did manage to kill 4 of the 6 penalties they received in that game. While that seems like some weird consolation prize, it’s really quite a feat. Calgary was playing with fire during that game and taking 6 penalties (horrid officiating) was a disaster waiting to happen. Make no mistake, the Flames PK is one of the best in the league, but the Ducks have the second best PP unit in the league (24.4%). Anaheim has 15 PP GF at home and 15 PP GF on the road, it was bound to happen. Can the Flames get back on another run killing penalties? I don’t see why not. Calgary’s next 5 (Arizona, Colorado, Vancouver x2, Winnipeg) currently sit at 21st or worse in the league in PP%.
The Quiet Case For Deryk Engelland
Is he the best defenceman the Flames have? No. But Deryk Engelland isn’t the albatross he’s made out to be at times. As a matter of fact, he’s so well respected by his teammates in the locker room that he was unanimously given Troy Brouwer’s “A” while he is out with a broken finger. Engelland does the little things on the ice and gets his hands dirty when the situation calls for someone to defend his team (50 PIM, 6 fighting majors). He’s only got 1 goal and 6 assists this season, but if he keeps on the pace he’s on right now, he will finish with the second best point total of his career with 15 (17 in 2012). While his possession numbers (38.5% CF) aren’t great, he’s near the top in +/- on the team. Deryk finds himself second on the Flames in +/ with a +7 and he trails only Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk (+9). As for comparisons: TJ Brodie (13 pts, -18), Dennis Wideman (11 pts, +1), Jyrki Jokipakka (5pts, -3) and Dougie Hamilton (21 pts, +2). For what Engelland brings to the table and does for the Flames, Calgary is getting their money’s worth and he isn’t the anchor that some people make him out to be.