The Calgary Flames finally saw their lengthy home-ice drought come to an end with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. Fans at the Saddledome could finally leave with smiles on their faces after having to endure a team-record seven straight home-ice defeats. Matt Stajan, who earlier in the week inked a four-year, $12.5 million extension with the team, netted the game winning goal. Talented rookie Sean Monahan chipped in with his team-leading 14th marker of the season while hard-working forward Lance Bouma netted the other.
It was a badly needed victory for the Flames in front of their passionate but increasingly growing restless fanbase. Calgary hadn’t won at home since Dec. 23 and broke a team-record for futility that had stood since 1998. In a number of those games they were shut out and failed to support what had been for the most part pretty good goaltending from Karri Ramo and Reto Berra. Ramo played a big role in the victory against the Coyotes turning aside 30 of 32 shots and even picked up an assist.
It’s been an eventful week for the Flames. Their line-brawl against the Vancouver Canucks was a highly publicized and discussed topic and saw Flames’ head coach Bob Hartley fined $25,000 by the league. The team was seemingly galvanized by the dust-up as they have delivered solid efforts in three straight contests against the Canucks, San Jose Sharks and the Coyotes.
The Flames at 17-27-7 on the season could look a lot different after the trade deadline, but acting general manager Brian Burke seems to have identified assets that he wants to keep around. He re-signed Stajan earlier this week and there’s been talk of a possible new deal with defenseman Kris Russell. Russell has had a breakout season in his first year with the organization even though he missed 13 games with a knee injury. The 26-year old blue-liner has seen his game flourish with the increased amount of ice time and has produced four goals and 13 assists in 38 games.
Hartley has seemingly been getting the most out of a club that obviously doesn’t have the skill or depth to compete with the top dogs in the Western Conference. He will be no doubt be using the professional pride card as the season heads into the latter stages. He’s had a hard-working group that had seemingly gotten away from that mantra in recent times. However, in the last three contests Hartley has seen his club return to the high-compete level they had been known for.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports