The Calgary Flames need points to stay in the playoff race. However, these points are hard to come by. Every team is playing tough hockey, and that means it’s tough for any team to run away and hide.
Should the Flames win in California, they will have completed a successful road trip in which they beat the Vancouver Canucks (last Saturday) and the San Jose Sharks (last Monday). The
5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings slowed the momentum; however, should the team finish with a 3-1-0 record that would certainly define their current homestand as highly-successful. As the team waits to play the Ducks, in this post I want to keep Flames’ fans up-to-date on team news and rumors.
Item One: David Rittich’s Road Success Ends in Los Angeles
Because David Rittich has been playing well on the road, he was in net again in Los Angeles against the Kings. Rittich had registered wins both against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. However, sadly for the Flames, his success ended against the rebuilding Kings.
Interestingly, Rittich played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Wednesday’s game. He was perfect during the first 30 minutes of the game, but gave up two goals in just 39 seconds during the second period and put the Flames behind the 8-Ball. They simply couldn’t come back from that deficit.
The 27-year-old Rittich, whose nickname is “Big Save Dave”, record dropped to 22-15-5 with a goals-against-average of 2.87 and a .910 save percentage. In some ways, Rittich’s game was a bit of a metaphor for how he’s been playing recently. In his last eight starts, his record is 4-4-0 and he’s given up 25 goals. It’s expected that Rittich’s goalie partner Cam Talbot will start in goal against Anaheim on Thursday.
Item Two: Matthew Tkachuk Is Remaining Hot
Matthew Tkachuk scored an assist in the 5-3 loss to the Kings when he set up Mikael Backlund for a second-period goal. When the Kings answered by scoring two quick goals, Tkachuk took his frustrations out on Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, an action that resulted in minor penalties for tripping and roughing later in the second period. Tkachuk now has 46 points in 57 games this season.
Item Three: Michael Stone Is Replacing Mark Giordano
Former Arizona Coyote Michael Stone has been getting regular playing time as he’s worked to fill the hole left by injuries to Mark Giordano (a hamstring issue) and Travis Hamonic (an upper-body issue). Stone has been on the playing roster for the past five games and he might stick for quite a while – at least until one or the other of Giordano or Hamonic return.
During his time on the ice since the injuries, Stone hasn’t scored yet. In some way, that isn’t a surprise because he’s not noted to be a prolific point-producer. Stone does have, however, solid non-scoring numbers. He currently has four points in 27 games this season.
Item Four: Johnny Gaudreau Is Starting to Be More Successful Offensively
Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau scored two assists against the Kings – both actually on Elias Lindholm’s two third-period goals. Gaudreau seems to have been stuck in the mud a bit this season, but he’s turned up his offense a bit during his recent run with a goal and six assists in his last six games. He now has 47 points in 58 games. That’s good, but it isn’t up to speed with the 99 points he scored in 2018-19 or the 84 points he scored in 2017-18.
Item Five: Elias Lindholm Scores Two Goals Against the Kings
Elias Lindholm scored a pair of goals in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Kings. Both his goals were in the third period, as I noted before, and were assisted by Gaudreau. Lindholm’s been a solid player since he came to the Flames from the Carolina Hurricanes two seasons ago, and last season scored 78 points (27 goals and 51 assists) in 81 games.
This season, he has 45 points (24 goals and 21 assists) in 58 games – not quite as good as last season. In fact, although he’ll likely top his 27 goals from last season, his assist total is down quite a bit. He’s currently on an eight-game point-scoring streak, but his two goals against the Kings was the only multiple-point game he’s had during that streak.
What’s Next for the Flames?
As noted, the Flames play the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, February 13. The Ducks didn’t finish their last game because of the cardiac issue that Blues’ defenseman Jay Bouwmeester experienced. Here at NHLtradetalk.com, we’re pleased Bouwmeester seems to be recovering well from that experience. As Flames’ fans know too well, T.J. Brodie has an episode where he collapsed on the ice.
The Ducks are on a bit of a roll and have gained points in all five recent road games. The team went 3-0-2, which was the first time the Ducks have had points in every game of a five-game trip in 17 seasons. It was only the third time in their history. It should be a tough game for the Flames to win.
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