This week saw the conclusion of the Flames marathon 6 game road trip and the results were mixed. The Flames finished the week with a record of 2-1-1, but Calgary should have at least gone 3-0-1. Poor defensive play and 3 blown leads cost them 2 points in Dallas and they wasted a 41 save performance from Mike Smith in a 1-0 OT loss to Columbus. On the bright side the Flames top line contributed 13 points over the four games they played this week. Without further adieu, here’s what we have for the Week 8 edition of 3 Things.
It’s Killing Time: The PK Is Back!
The Flames penalty kill started off this season as the strongest part of the special teams unit, but it was used and abused and it quickly sank to the bottom of the league.....literally. Currently the Flames are 30th in the NHL in PK % at 73.8%. It took until Saturday to get there, but things are looking up. This week Calgary killed 11 of the 12 penalties they took, finally yielding a PPG in their 3-2 win over Colorado. The Flames even managed to kill a lengthy 5 on 3, showing that the PK is getting stronger. Another confidence builder is the fact that the Flames took on quality PP units, with the exception of the Columbus PP, which was ranked 31st in the NHL when the two teams met. That’s how far the Flames have fallen: they killed 11 of 12 and it took all week to get out of the basement.
Another First: David Rittich Gets A Start And A “W”
The 25 yo Czech got his first ever NHL start on Saturday night and got his first NHL victory in a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Rittich got the chance to play when the Flames placed Eddie Lack on waivers and he responded. Rittich stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced, the only two goals he allowed being shots he was screened on. The good news is in one NHL start, Rittich looked competent as an NHL goalie and maybe the Flames have solved their backup goalie issues for this season.
Milestones X2: Dougie Hamilton and Mikael Backlund Each Hit Career Milestones
The Flames have had some “firsts” this season and Saturday night in Colorado they delivered two career milestones. Dougie Hamilton opened the scoring and his goal at 17:23 was his 3rd of the season, but more importantly it was the 50th marker of his career. Hamilton’s first career goal came back on February 15, 2013 as a member of the Boston Bruins at the rip old age of 19.
The Flames other milestone came off the stick of Mikael Backlund. At 19:31 of the second period Backlund ripped home a rebound to put the Flames up 3-1, the goal being his 6th of the season. The importance? The marker was Backlund’s 100th of his career. It took Backlund some time to get settled in the NHL, but over the last 2 seasons he’s really ramped it up. He’s combined for 100 points since 2015 and 43 of his 100 career goals have come over that span.