The Calgary Flames might not be headed to the post season this year, their fifth straight without an appearance, but that hasn’t stopped the team from giving their fans something to cheer about.
The team’s recent play will put an exclamation mark on what has been, and was anticipated to be, a difficult season. The Flames are 6-4-0 in its last ten, and their victories have been convincing, their defeats all by one goal.
Most expected this season to be a rebuilding year after the departure of two of the franchise’s top record holders in former captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. In that regard, the Flames have performed perhaps better than expected.
To his credit, Mark Giordano has taken his job as the 19th captain in franchise history seriously, posting career totals in just 52 games. He is currently 2nd in team scoring and has 13 points in 12 games since the Olympic break. Giordano might not garner the attention of a Zdeno Chara or P.K. Subban, but FlamesNation’s Kent Wilson makes a convincing argument why the Flames’ best defenseman should be considered among the finalists for this year’s Norris Trophy.
Giordano isn’t the only pleasant surprise. Forward Mike Cammalleri is having his best season since 2009-2010, with his team leading 23 goals in 53 games. Cammalleri, who was expected to be dealt at the trade deadline has 8 goals in 7 games, more than any trade deadline acquisition. Center Sean Monahan is 5th in team scoring after a successful rookie campaign. His 19 goals are tied for 3rd among rookies, making him an easy candidate for the Calder Trophy. The list of accomplishments goes on.
Individual efforts aside, the team itself has earned a reputation for its tenacity. All season long the Flames have battled to the dying seconds of a game, win or lose, leaving fans with a sense of pride in their rebuilding team. Case and point was Friday night’s bout against the Nashville Predators, a 6-5 loss that saw the Flames battle back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. Even when they lose, the games, if anything, have been exciting.
When they win, it’s a thing of beauty. Last night’s romp 8-1 drubbing of the Oilers in Edmonton in the final Battle of Alberta of the season was nothing short of magical. The two teams had split the series at 2 apiece and the Flames’ two victories came in overtime. Last night’s 8 goals scored, even after the Oilers got on the board first, was the most by the Flames all season, and this coming off an impressive 5 goal tally against the Predators.
Fans might be disappointed that their team will pack up its gear after the remaining 11 games but their’s always next year. If management can keep the team’s core together this off-season there will be a lot to build on for next season, because the fight is there.
When the Flames raise their sticks to the crowd after their final home game against the Winnipeg Jets on April 11, the team deserves a standing ovation. They’ve earned it.
After tonight, the Flames will be home for three straight against the San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers.
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