I’ve got some stuff bouncing around in the ole dome that isn’t enough for a column about each thing, so let’s just toss ‘em all together in one place. Kind of like a hybrid version of the old Three Things column meets Traci’s Ten Takes. Something like that. Buckle up, it’s a garbled mess of random nonsense.
-Can we just take a second a realize how lucky we are to watch Elias Lindholm play at this elite level? Honestly. He’s the “quiet” member of the top line that doesn’t do it as flashy as Johnny Gaudreau or as “Chucky” as Matthew Tkachuk, but he is an absolute elite centre in the NHL. Think of the amount of times he’s on the ice at even strength, then with the PP and PK. It’s nuts how much he plays, yet he’s never worn down. His pass to Gaudreau last night in OT was a thing of beauty, that was set up by his own great play in the defensive end. He has to be a Selke Award candidate this season because his two way play for the Flames is absolutely off the charts. As for his offence, his “quiet” 57 points (27G, 30A) is 3rd on the Flames behind Gaudreau and Tkachuk, but he’s been on a tear lately. He had 2 goals and an assist last night, giving him 24 points in his last 15 games. And he’s the guy that flies UNDER the radar. Think about that for a minute.
-Speaking of offence, Johnny Gaudreau is starting knock players off one at a time, sometimes in back to back nights when it comes to the Flames record books. The Calgary forward is now 5th all time in franchise history in points with 565, having passed Flames legends Kent Nilsson and Gary Sutter in two nights. IF Johnny goes on some whacky scoring spree he could catch Joe Nieuwendyk, but that’s more likely next season, you know when he re-signs for a million years and a billion dollars. Gaudreau is 51 behind Joe Nieuwendyk for 4th all time (616) and there’s a decent gap to reach Al MacInnis and his 822. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Johnny Gaudreau, if he stays in Calgary and remains healthy that he could catch Theo Fleury and his 830 points for second place in franchise history.
-We don’t question Darryl Sutter often, but last night, starting Dan Vladar against the best team in the West was a head scratcher for sure. Vladar held his own last night, backstopping the Flames to a 4-3 OT victory with a HUGE save in the waning moments of regulation to keep the game tied at 3-3. The better matchup was probably Vladar vs Montreal, giving Jacob Markstrom that night off and coming out to face the Avalanche. Markstrom took the loss to the lowly Canadiens Thursday night, a 5-4 OT decision, but the rest will be good for him seeing he started 19 out of 20 before getting the baseball cap last night. Part of Sutter’s decision may be road play. Vladar is now 8-3-1 on the season with a record of 7-3-1 on the road. Meanwhile Jacob Markstrom is 11-7-0 away from the Saddledome, which probably played a big factor in who got the start last night. Either way, Dan Vladar rose to the occasion and was a major factor in the Flames taking down the best team in the West.
-Dan Vladar will probably see the ice a lot more as the Flames have a BUSY schedule coming up. This week Calgary has 5 games in 7 days, with two back to back’s. Here’s the schedule for this week:
Monday: Calgary vs Edmonton (7:30 PM MT)
Tuesday: Calgary vs Washington (7 PM MT)
Thursday: Calgary vs Tampa Bay (7 PM MT)
Saturday: Calgary vs Detroit (5PM MT)
Sunday: Calgary @ Colorado (6 PM MT)
That’s a hefty schedule for sure, with a Battle Of Alberta, the Capitals. Tampa and another visit to Colorado. The combined record of the Flames opponents for this week (as of this writing) is 160-99-30. That record, without the Detroit Red Wings is daunting for sure, but the Flames are playing well and, say, a 3-2-0 record on the week wouldn’t be terrible looking at who they are playing. Tampa is third in the East with 78 points. Washington is 8th in the East with 69 points. And those pesky Avalanche the Flames just played are first in the West with 85 points. Detroit SHOULD be a layup, but we’ve seen how that works against teams like Montreal and San Jose. And the Battle Of Alberta is always a hotly contested game and with Edmonton in a free fall that game could be very fun/messy. Either way, the Flames are inundated with games this month and this is the busiest week of the season for the Flames the rest of the way.