Calgary 3 – Colorado 2
The Calgary Flames ended their six game, 11-day, road trip with a win against the Colorado Avalanche. The Flames come home over .500 on the trip, showed some moments of brilliance, and put up some duds as well. Here are some parting thoughts on the trip and how the team fares at the quarter point in the season.
- The club looks better than last year. Is it much improved? Not really. Perhaps the biggest question mark coming into the season has wound up being the greatest strength. Nobody really knew what we were getting with Mike Smith, but he’s arguably been the team’s best player 1/4 way through. His back-up in Eddie Lack, not so much. Given the chance in Detroit early in the trip, he put up a stinker, not that he was helped much. His outings have been unimpressive and late last week he was sent down to the AHL.
- It would’ve helped Lack if he had some consistency in front of him. In fact, coming into the season it was the ‘best defence’ on paper that was the talk of the league. 25 games in, the ‘league’s best’ is not very good. Consistency plagues the defensive corps, and apart from the top tandem of Giordano and Hamilton, the other four are trying to find their game. Some days it’s there, but some days there are huge breakdowns, particularly on the second pairing with Hamonic and Brodie. If this team finds consistent success, they’re going to need that second-pair to step up.
- Speaking of consistency, secondary scoring seems to be a lost cause. It’s recently found some power with the return of Jaromir Jagr, but his slow pace isn’t the curing elixir the 3rd and 4th lines need. There are players that need to find their touch and contribute on the scoresheet. Bennett, Brouwer, Versteeg, Lazar, all bitter disappointments thus far. even Tkachuk has been suffering from a scoring slump.
- When the offence kicks in things are good. When the D shows up, things are great. When one or the other fails to put in a solid game, the team can’t compete. The run-and-gun high scoring games are fun to watch, but the Flames can’t play a style they’re not suited for.
- Speaking of offence, the top line is dynamic. Early we weren’t sure if Ferland was going to be the answer on the top RW, but so far he’s done nothing but put up points. He hasn’t consistently shown he’ll be at the top for years to come, but the verdict right now, he’s excelling. It’s easier to do as well when the likes of MOnahan and Gaudreau sit in the league’s top 5 in scoring. That top line will carry the team, but without secondary scoring added to the mix it’s going to be a tough slog to make a deep playoff push.
The Flames suffer from one of the key attributes that separates the elite teams from the ones just making the cut–consistency. If they can prove they’re performing in all facets of the game, including special teams, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Until then, the question marks on whether this year’s Flames are the ‘real deal’ will still be out there.