When the Calgary Flames lost captain Mark Giordano to injury in late February, many thought that would be the end for the Flames and their hope for a playoff spot. But, the team has come together and is currently in third place in a tight Pacific Division.
Giordano suffered a torn bicep tendon, a injury that doesn’t just sound incredibly painful, but also meant that he was done for the rest of season after needing surgery.
The Flames have been one of the biggest surprises this season as not many of the experts or fans in general thought that they would be in a playoff spot with 14 games remaining in the regular season.
Since Giordano’s injury, the Flames have gone 5-2-1, which is very impressive seeing that Giordano was one of the leading point-scorers on the team and logs the heaviest minutes. In his absence, players like Kris Russell and T.J. Brodie has had to take on more responsibility on the back end and log more ice time.
“We believe in this team and I think you saw at the deadline Tre [GM Brad Treliving] did a good job and wasn’t willing to make any unnecessary moves,” Giordano told The Calgary Sun after he had his surgery. “These are the guys who’ve brought us here and I think the effort and the details will get us through.”
The Pacific Division has been extremely tight this season, with the exception of the Anaheim Ducks in the top. Between the Vancouver Canucks in second and the San Jose Sharks in fifth, only 6 points divide them.
Then add in teams from the Central Division and the battles for the wild card spots are nail biters. We might very well see this go all the way down to the wire on the last day of the regular season to see what teams will make into the playoffs in the Western Conference and especially the Pacific Division.
Johnny Gaudreau has been phenomenal in his rookie season and he has surpassed Filip Forsberg as the hottest candidate for the Calder Trophy. Gaudreau and Forsberg are tied at 53 points each, eight points ahead of Mark Stone. Gaudreau is second on the Flames in scoring behind Jiri Hudler. Hudler and Gaudreau are centered by Sean Monahan on a line that is one of the most exciting to watch in the league.
“We are clicking,” Monahan told Calgary reporter Aaron Vickers. “All our games are a little bit different. [Hudler] is a playmaker and Johnny, he’s got speed and can make plays as well. With us together, we like to talk and sort things out out there. We’re getting the job done.”
Coach Bob Hartley only had good things to say about his top line as he also spoke to Vickers.
“They’re unbelievable,” Hartley said. “They’re fun to coach, and they’re fun to watch. They’re moving so well, and they’re creative. They’re responsible, they’re playing the right way, and it’s as simple as this. They’re picking up tons of points playing the right way, and that’s why we’re winning games.”
You definitely can’t forget about Monahan, who is on his way to a 30+ goal season. There’s definitely been no sophomore slump for the 20-year old Brampton, ON native. He had a very impressive rookie season last year and scored 22 goals, but he keeps growing with each game and has become a legit first line center. Monahan has 10 goals in the last 14 games and is in 13th place in scoring in the league.
Look for this team to battle all the way to the end, and if they make into the playoffs, it will be a great achievement. Teams that are in a rebuild or about to be in one should take note of what Calgary has done as it wasn’t long ago that we looked at this team and said that it would be a long time before they would become competitive.