The Calgary Flames continued their Eastern road trip swing by getting back on winning track versus Philly. The Flames seem to have trouble beating up on non-playoff teams, Philly being no exception. Twice now they’ve had to come from behind in the third and pull out a late overtime victory to pull in the two points. Two points that have temporarily placed the Flames at the top of the Western Conference. They have amassed points up to the halfway point this season that’s only matched by the very Cup winning 88-89 team from yesteryear.
The Flames continue their road swing in Chicago tomorrow. In the meantime, the January schedule up until the All-Star break looks on paper to be their easiest yet. Whether they can continue torrid pace and confirm their place as a consistent hockey club riding the top of the standings will be put to the test. Despite their play the pursuit for top spot is tight. No less than 8 teams are in the mix and any prolonged bump along the way could put a team out and behind. That’s how close it is, but also how consistent the team has been throughout the year.
Despite their winning ways there’s still a lot to give as well. Third line scoring is absence. James Neal is still asleep at the wheel, and Mike Smith needs to find his game. The emergence of David Rittich and the dominance of Gaudreau finding a new level of elite propels this team forward. Matthew Tkachuck is slowly finding his way, although not as dominant as Gaudreau, the 21 year old will eclipse his career best in half as many games.
Career bests. A lot of players are having that kind of year, and more can jump on the train.
But will they peak too soon? Will they fizzle out? Fans are understandably nervous. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a team of this calibre, and we don’t want to be fooled again.