What is left to be said about the heart-stopping Calgary Flames? Their latest trick was to steal a point after trailing 4-0 to Ottawa Sunday with 13:14 to play.
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to figure out the Calgary Flames.
So they’re a young team, amassing elite prospects like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett, building for the future. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now.
So the analytics numbers suggest they’re one of the league’s worst possession teams – inferior even to Edmonton, Toronto, Arizona and Carolina. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now.
So they lost all-world blueliner Mark Giordano to a torn biceps tendon for the season. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now. Visit Philly, visit Boston, visit Detroit, no problem, come out with six points to start March.
But surely, a 4-0 deficit in the third period of Sunday’s game against the Ottawa Senators would smother these Flames, right? Absolutely not. Here’s the must-watch sequence if you missed it:
This team continues to play possessed, mind-bogglingly clutch hockey for coach Bob Hartley. Its latest trick was a rope-a-dope extraordinaire. Calgary still hadn’t scored almost seven minutes into the third. And then: Joe Colborne, Kris Russell, Mikael Backlund, Russell again. Four goals in 10 minutes and 46 seconds, overwhelming Sens goalie Craig Anderson, who hadn’t started a game since Jan. 21. Off to overtime they went. Calgary had 23 SHOTS on Anderson in the third period alone. Talk about a team with an extra gear.
Sure, the narrative would’ve been cleaner and prettier if Calgary won the shootout, which it didn’t. But with all due respect to the surging Ottawa Senators, this game was the final round of Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed’s first bout, in which the loser left the lasting impression.
We keep waiting for Calgary to fall on its face, but it looks more and more like we’ve found this year’s Colorado Avalanche. The regression may not happen this season, and the scary part is that, by then, Calgary’s youngsters can improve enough to mask any potential regression anyway. The PDO (save percentage + shooting percentage) should come back to Earth, but what if Calgary’s core improves and increases scoring chances enough to offset that? It can only help when Bennett, the No. 2 prospect in Future Watch 2015, joins the fray.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin