The Calgary Flames are the surprise team of the West this season, with a record of 38-25-5. They have 81 points, which puts them at second in the Pacific division. The Flames record in regulation is nothing spectacular at 25-25. The Flames work their magic when they make it into overtime, which strictly in 4 on 4 overtime action is a great 9-3. The Flames win percentage in overtime is third best in the league, and they have the most overtime wins in the league. Only Nashville (7-2) and the Islanders(7-1) have a better win percentage in overtime, Anaheim has the same win percentage (6-2). When the game reaches a shootout, the Flames also have one of the best records at 4-2. Only the Islanders (7-3) and the Blues (9-3) have a better win percentage in the shootout, the Canucks (4-2) have the same win percentage in overtime as well. The Flames have success when pulling the goalie for an extra attacker, they have scored 9 times this way this season.
The Flames lineup is centered around young and on the rise stars, as their average age (27) is one of the leagues lowest. The top line is centered by 20 year old Sean Monahan, who is having a breakout year with 51 points in 68 games (27 goals, 24 assists). His 21 year old left winger Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau has 53 points in 67 games (19 goals, 34 assists). The right winger seems like a grandpa on this line, 31 year old Jiri Hudler, who has 60 points in 65 games (25 goals, 35 assists). This top line is a threat to score every time on the ice, Calgary would be wise to keep these three together for years.
The Flames have been tough to beat of late, 5-0-1 in their last 6, and the top line is doing the majority of the work. Jiri Hudler has 12 points over this 6 game stretch (6 goals, 6 assists), Gaudreau and Monahan both have 9 points. The Flames are a crazy 19-4 when Sean Monahan has at least a goal. This line is tough to stop, and is a big reason the Flames are fighting for a playoff position in the stacked Western Conference.
The Flames record is quite impressive if you factor in their mid-season slump, a 8 game losing streak of 0-7-1. Most teams will hit that wall, the key part is not letting it ruin your season. The Flames were 17-8-2 before this losing streak, but they did a good job of not letting it derail their season.
It’s hard not to root for the Flames to make the playoffs, they are the underdog this year. The Flames are trying to break a 5 year playoff drought, and make a quick rebuild after dealing star Jarome Iginla away in 2013. The Flames were a playoff contender with Iginla, but never a cup contender, only making it to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 2003-04, losing in game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Calgary has a great foundation of Monahan and Gaudreau in place, with Sam Bennett in the OHL developing, the 4th pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Sam Bennett has the pedigree of being a future star, making Calgary look like a future staple atop the Western Conference for years to come.
If Calgary can keep making it to overtime, their record of 13-5 gives them a good chance to make the playoffs. The Flames have my rooting interest for the rest of the season, and hopefully into the playoffs.