Calgary had another short week with only 2 games and they managed to scrape out a 1-1-0 record. The Flames opened the week by falling to the Canucks 5-3, but rebounded nicely to take down the Detroit Red Wings 6-3 on Thursday night. Thursday’s game saw few “waiting to see” moments (we’ll get to those below) and Calgary looks like they are starting to ramp up the play in the offensive zone. The Flames put Tanner Glass on waivers and assigned him to Stockton and Rasmus Andersson made his 2017-18 debut on Thursday night as well, pairing with Brett Kulak and looking VERY solid as a pairing. Without further adieu, here’s the Week 6 Edition of 3 Things.
Micheal Ferland: He’s Not Just For Punching Anymore
When Micheal Ferland first came up with the Flames he ran roughshod over the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL Playoffs. He hit everything that moved and would drop the gloves at a moments notice. But what most of us noticed was that Ferland was sneaky fast and had a rocket of a shot. He just needed to figure out what kind of a player he wanted to be and over the last half of last season and into 2017-18 he has figured it out. Ferland will scrap and throw the body from time to time, but he’s become a top line winger and an absolute scoring threat. Ferland had 2 goals this week, one he created on his own, and has points in 4 of his last 5 games (6th on the Flames in scoring). No one has benefited more from playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan more than Micheal Ferland. His offensive talent shines on that line and while it was thought he’d add some muscle and grit to that grouping, he’s adding scoring and speed which makes them even more dangerous. Now that the other teams have to account for the other forward on that top line, life is getting really good for the Flames #1 unit.
Goaltending: What a Difference A Year Makes
Let’s not mince words: Mike Smith has been a godsend for the Flames this season. Calgary added the veteran goaltender in the offseason to a luke warm response and he’s done nothing but change everyone’s opinion of what they thought of him. Smith started both games this week and was 1-1-0. He had a rough one against Vancouver, but was stellar in net against the Red Wings. He has started all but 1 of Calgary’s 16 games and is currently 9-6-0 with a .924 SV% and a GAA of 2.55. Last season at this point the Flames goaltending was in shambles. Calgary was 5-10-1 and giving up goals at a sickening pace. They had given up 4 or more goals 9 times and Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson weren’t looking so hot. Eventually they settled in, but this year has been completely different. Smith has anchored the Flames in net and has looked sharp, even when losing. There have been few soft goals and fans have never thought Smith was in trouble. The only question remains is: will Eddie Lack ever see the crease again? And I’m not sure anyone, outside of Lack is wondering. Clearly Smith won’t play 81 games, but there’s a good chance he’ll be the workhorse the Flames haven’t seen since Miikka Kiprusoff decided to retire.
A Couple Of Firsts: Jagr, Janko and Bennett
Fans have been waiting for the moment they would hear: “Flames goal scored by #68 JAROMIR JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGRRRRRRRRR YAHOOOOOOOOOOOO” and they got their moment this week. Jagr took off on a 2 on 1 with Johnny Gaudreau and Jagr took a pretty feed from Gaudreau and buried his first goal, AT HOME, on the season. To only be inside Gaudreau’s head as he came flying down the ice with Jagr.
Need another first? Mark Jankowski notched his first NHL goal of the season with a little help from.....his pants. Janko had a Jaromir Jagr shot that was saved by Petr Mrazek bounce off his pants and into the net for his first NHL goal. Jankowski has been THIS close since he’s come up and hopefully this will get him going and that line of Jagr-Jankowski-Bennett will add some scoring punch to a much maligned Bottom 6.
AND for our final first, Sam Bennett FINALLY got his first point of the season. Bennett has been struggling mightily this year and he notched an assist in game #16 of the season. Bennett’s high water mark for SOG this season was back on Oct. 29th with 4. Bennett got a new contract this offseason and has yet to produce. He’s typically VERY streaky, but his lack of production to start 2017-18 is concerning. Maybe having Jagr back in the lineup will help Bennett get cranking, but getting his first point of the season is a step in the right direction.