While the non-playoff fate of the Calgary Flames was determined a long time ago, it’s been remarkable to watch this group compete at a high level to the bitter end. The Flames ran their current win streak to four games with a 4-3 shootout win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings. Rookie Sean Monahan continued his stellar season in netting his 21st goal of the season and producing the shootout winner.
While blowing a 3-0 lead on home ice wasn’t a positive, it seems with this team that it can’t be anything but a one-goal game. The Flames have already set a new team record with an incredible 49 one-goal affairs this season and have now won their last seven contests that have gone to either overtime or the shootout. If you were to ask any Flame fan, even the most diehard, if they would have taken a 35-38-7 record at this stage of the first full season of a major rebuild, the answer would probably have been yes. They aren’t too far off, and it certainly hasn’t been the disastrous campaign that most pundits were expecting.
It’s been the way that they’ve gone about their business under head coach Bob Hartley that’s made them a fun team to watch. Hartley and his staff have done a tremendous job in getting the players to buy in to a high compete level on a nightly basis, and there’s a genuine enthusiasm as well thanks to the number of rookies who are getting their first taste of the big show down this stretch drive.
Monahan and blue-liner T.J. Brodie have established themselves as solid cornerstones for the organization to build around, while they couldn’t have a better leader in place than captain Mark Giordano. The talented defenseman has taken his game to an elite level with 14 goals and 32 assists in 62 games this season. He’s second on the team in scoring and does it all when it comes to ice time, blocking shots and physical play. Giordano’s work ethic has certainly been a positive influence on Brodie’s progression.
Goaltender Karri Ramo has shown that he’s capable of carrying the load and is establishing himself as a true No. 1 netminder. After a slow start to the season there have been very few nights in the second of the season where he hasn’t given his team a solid effort and a chance to win. He was terrific in the victory against the Kings as the team was outshot 44-18 on the night.
Unfortunately, the playoff drought for the organization continues, but the way the club is winding down the 2013-14 campaign is highly encouraging. The Flames are providing plenty of entertainment value and future hope to their faithful and enthusiastic fanbase.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports