After a rough start to the season, going 8-14-2, all of a sudden the Calgary Flames are good. Really, really good.
Is it a smokescreen? Perhaps, but winning seven games in a row is next to impossible for the best teams in the NHL. For one of the worst to start the season to do that is something that has to be contributed to more than a fluke. Has last year's Jack Adams winner Bob Hartley started to work his voodoo again? It's not like this win streak has been against awful teams. The Flames beat the Central Division leading Stars Thursday night handily by a score of 3-1, and they began the streak by by coming back with a three-goal third period and winning in a shootout against the Stars as well.
They're also not content with their recent success:
"We haven’t done anything yet," Flames forward David Jones said. "We just got back to .500 and we’re one game above. That’s not good enough for a playoff team. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re getting there. We’re having some better games and we’re getting some results, finally. We just need to keep doing that.
"There’s a lot of hockey left and we can’t be satisfied."
Perhaps the Blues could benefit from playing a solid 60 minutes tonight. Two back to back come from behind victories is something to be proud of, but falling behind the eight ball to a hungry Calgary team may not be the best idea. This season has been one for ending extended Blues winning streaks against opponents; the Blues have won every game in St. Louis against the Flames for the last four years. This one may be the one that they have to work the hardest to win. Kari Ramo has allowed a whopping four goals in his last three games, and while the Blues' power play is clicking thanks to the return of Kevin Shattenkirk, they'll need more regular strength offense than just the perfunctory Vladimir Tarasenko Goal of the Game.
The Blues' goaltending has been solid against Calgary, and Jake Allen has been outstanding in his last five starts. After a streak of shaky play that was more on the team than on Allen, he is 4-1-0 in his last five.
The fourth line of Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, and Ryan Reaves played well Thursday night until Brodziak left the game with an injury. He will be replaced by Scott Gomez this afternoon, who is playing in his first game since December 5th's 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gomez hasn't scored a point since November 12th.
The Flames are dead last in the league in both penalty kill and power play percentage. Their team save percentage is second to last. This seven game winning streak is a wonderful story, but all good stories have to come to an end eventually, and the Blues, who seem to've shaken off the doldrums for now, stand a very good chance at being the ones to do it.