In one of those rare and glorious sports days for the City of Calgary, both the Stampeders and the Flames were playing at home at the same time. And for the first time in recent memory, BOTH teams won.
Admittedly, before this game went down I told everyone who’d listen, “Flames will lose this one.” There’s no way with the lineup they were field that a win was remotely a possibility. Stajan, Cammalleri, David Jones, all injured. So early, and so many vets out of the lineup. At times in the game it seemed I would be right, Calgary was faced with their, what seems to be usual, defensive zone fire drill that lasted for what seemed like 5 minutes. There were bending but ultimately didn’t break.
The lack of talent, or the ability to ‘keep up’ with opposing teams is evident, but what’s different this year is the fight back. Now, eventually this team will hit a losing spell, but so far in regulation Calgary hasn’t tasted defeat. Yes, this team is a far cry from the ‘Young Guns’ era that had ‘work ethic’ as their primary mantra. More talent, better players, and some odd folks stepping up have contributed to the Flames’ early success.
“Big Toe” Joey MacDonald started in goal again, his fourth consecutive start. He held down the fort, made some saves, was beaten low short side, but wasn’t largely tested. Defensively Calgary got hemmed in numerous times, and looked like they were going to break on the PK, but desperation kept them in it with players lining up to throw their bodies in front of pucks.
NJ struck first, but Calgary always had an answer when they took the lead. It wasn’t really the PP that looked threatening (although it did produce) but 5v5 that seems to be the staple of the club.
All eyes at home are on Sean Monahan and whether or not he’ll do enough over 9 games to warrant staying with the big club. Leading the team in points (actually, one behind Jiri Hudler now) is a good reason to keep him. He’s certainly missing some major components particularly at the face-off dot and in the defensive zone. Tonight he was quiet for the most part until the third line he centers struck late, with two minutes left, to put the Flames ahead. Monahan tipped in a nice Baertschi pass to give the Flames the lead. It may not be pretty, but he’s effective at times, and thankfully for Flames fans, he’s only going to get better. The offensive up-side ot Monahan is a welcome surprise from what many said was a strong two-way centerman.
Calgary now leads the Pacific Division, albeit temporarily, before they hit the road and meet divisional rivals down the West cost. That will be a true test and one can only hope they get some veteran bodies back in the fold, because honestly folks, they shouldn’t be winning with th elineup they have on paper, but somehow they do.