It was a busy week for the Flames as they had 4 games, a suspension and LOTS of talk about Glen Gulutzan needing to be fired. Like playing 4 times in 7 days isn’t enough, all of that other stuff on top of playing can crush a team and send them into a downward sprial. The Flames fought through all that adversity and somehow managed to walk away with a 2-1-1 record on the week. One of those wins, the second night of a back to back in Montreal featured a Matthew Tkachuk-less Flames team due to his 1 game suspension for “spearing” Matt Martin in the Flames 2-1 shoot out loss to the Maple Leafs. Calgary was able to get the game to OT and Sean Monahan scored to beat the Canadiens and give the Flames a much needed win to relax the fans and the team itself. Another reason the Flames played well this week was that all 3 of their defence lines showed up in 3 of the Flames 4 games. Calgary’s defence tightened up and buckled down, helping the Flames allow only 6 goals in the 3 games after their 5-2 loss against the Flyers. Here’s the rest of what happened in Week 10!
The kid’s are alright: Mark Jankowski, Garnet Hathaway and Sam Bennett are getting it done.
In our Fan Poll Friday question we asked you what should the Flames do with Garnet Hathaway when Jaromir Jarg returns? As of this morning 48% (186 votes) of you think Hathaway should stay right where he is and it’s hard to argue with that. That Flames 3rd line is really clicking and the added bonus to their play: they are young, fast and not afraid to get in the dirty areas. Mark Jankowski, Sam Bennett and Garnet Hathaway were a MAJOR reason the Flames got a 4-2 over Vancouver and now hold the top spot in the coveted Wild Card race. Sam Bennett got the GWG, but Garnet Hathaway fed Matthew Tkachuk for the game tying goal after he tracked down a loose puck and kept it in the Vancouver end. Hathaway also got the tying goal against Montreal by sitting in front of the Canadiens net and jamming the puck in past Carey Price. Jankowski had a great week as well, putting 7 shots on net and collecting an assist against the Canucks. The real strength from this week, however, was Bennett and Hathaway. Bennett had 3 points this week and Hathaway had a 4 point week, 2 coming against Vancouver. Hathaway and Jankowski have chemistry from playing together in Stockton and Bennett looks like he’s starting to really shake off the “bust” talk that’s been surrounding him all season. If this 3rd line can pick up some of the slack and help out (like Sunday night) when the top line is struggling, the Flames are going to be in great shape. It’s pretty hard to argue that Jagr belongs back on this line when he’s healthy. This trio has too much going for it right now and it would be a shame to break it up.
The pipes are stable: Looks like Calgary’s got a backup.
Admit it, you knew Mike Smith needed the night off against Montreal, the Flames needed a win and Calgary looked like they were tossing David Rittich to the wolves. Montreal had won 5 out of their last 6 and the Flames were like a rolling stone, building momentum in the wrong direction. Well, fear not. Rittich handled the goaltending responsibilities with easy and the Flames came out 3-2 winners in overtime. Rittich stopped 35 of the 37 shots that came his way, collecting his second win of the season and easing everyone’s minds about who plays when Smith needs a day off. The Flames backup situation was sketchy, to say the least, before Eddie Lack was put on waivers and assigned to Stockton, but David Rittich has made a smooth transition to the NHL. Dare we say it feels like when the Flames need to give Smith the baseball cap for the night the entire fan base doesn’t say “dangit, Smith isn’t playing tonight.” Maybe now that the Flames have an actual backup goalie Mike Smith can get a little more rest. I for one am thrilled at the idea of seeing David Rittich get some more ice time.
Sean Monahan: Overtime hero......AGAIN.
Need a goal in overtime? Call Sean Monahan. The Flames got to overtime against Montreal and Sean Monahan does what Sean Monahan does best, he scores GWGs. Mony’s OT marker was his second of the season, but equally as important, the goal was his franchise record 9th regular season OT winner. The NHL record for OT goals is 19, so Monahan has a long way to go, but that’s 9 OT winners in a short 4 years. Who’s got the 19? Alex Ovechkin and Monahan’s current teammate Jaromir Jagr. The Flames centre now has 17 goals on the season, which puts him 3rd in the NHL behind only Nikita Kucherov and Alex Ovechkin.