Having just wrapped up the team’s most success road trip of the 2013-14 season, there are plenty of positives for the Calgary Flames to take from the past five games.
Yes, the road trip started on the wrong foot, losing 6-3 and 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. The manner in which the Flames were able to turn around the road trip though, reeling off three consecutive wins, speaks volumes to the team’s competitive spirit and mental toughness.
Starting in Florida, the Flames beat the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1. Not only was Calgary able to get a result against a quality team, but they were able to put their subpar Ontario showings in their rear view mirror and focus on the current task at hand. Despite the Florida Panthers‘ meager record, the Flames’ performance the next night might have been even better than the one over Steven Stamkos and crew. The Flames have had their struggles both on the road this season as well as in the second night of back-to-back games. That being said, the Flames were able to overcome the Panthers 2-1. The Flames then stretched their win streak to three games by shutting out the desperate New Jersey Devils 1-0.
The goaltending the Flames received in the final three games was tremendous. Captain Mark Giordano emphasized that point after the victory over the Devils by comparing the impact Karri Ramo has had to that of former netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. It was Ramo who stopped 31-of-32 Lightning shots, as well as all 31 Devils’ attempts. Those performances sandwiched Joey MacDonald‘s 34 saves on 35 shots from the Panthers. Simple math shows the Ramo-MacDonald tandem combined to save 96-of-98 shots in the three games to close out the trip.
The offensive production has been spread around. While 12 goals scored in five games is by no means recognized as lethal offensive output, it is nice to see a variety of players contributing. The veterans have set the tone with Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan and Curtis Glencross each getting a couple goals on the trip. A feel good moment came in the loss to the Senators when rookie Sean Monahan notched his 20th of the campaign. There was also a first career NHL goal for Ken Agostino. Tough guy Kevin Westgarth and checker Paul Byron also scored, while Kris Russell and Giordano represented tallies from the blueline.
With only three games remaining in the season, the Flames have gained some momentum and a real excitement surrounds the team. No matter what a team’s record is, it is always nice to end the season with reasons of optimism for the future, which is exactly what the Flames are providing their fanbase to close the season.