Reflecting on the Calgary Flames’ play up to the All-Star break in the 2014-15 NHL season, they have plenty to be proud of. The Flames are competitive in the difficult Pacific division and have had strong play from many different players. They have just endured what may be the most difficult part of their schedule in going on the west-coast road trip playing the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and most recently the Anaheim Ducks.
They did surprisingly well on the trip, posting a 4-1 record led by great performances from call-up goaltender Joni Ortio. After a tough 6-3 loss to the Ducks, the Flames will take advantage of some time off and must be ready to go for what should be an even harder second half of the season.
Players like Karri Ramo and Ladislav Smid welcome the time off with open arms; both have been dealing with their fair share of injuries, Ramo recently being activated off injured reserve on Jan. 21. Smid missed 12 of the last 15 games for the Flames going into the Jan. 21 contest against the Ducks. He provides a veteran presence on the blue-line that is missed by Calgary.
Conversely, some players like Sean Monahan may be itching to get back into action over the break. Monahan has scored in four straight games, and he is a crucial part of the Flames’ success. He needs to find more consistency in the second half of the season to give Calgary the best chance at making the playoffs. Mikael Backlund returned from injury just prior to the break and has eight points in seven games.
The Flames have plenty of bumps and bruises to rest over the All-Star beak, and others will have to find a way to bring their momentum into the final push of the season. But either way, the second half of the season will be very difficult with every team making a push for the playoffs.
Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau don’t get the same benefits as some of their teammates; they are the Flames’ representatives at the All-Star weekend in Columbus.