Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!
The Calgary Flames continue one of their best seasons of recent memory and they boast several players worthy of All-Star Game contention. Johnny Gaudreau will likely head to his fifth straight All-Star Game, but there’s good reason to think that at least one other Flame will make the trip down to San Jose to join Gaudreau for the All-Star festivities.
The other Flames that should be considered include: Elias Lindholm, Mark Giordano, David Rittich, Sean Monahan. Omitted from the poll but not forgotten: Matthew Tkachuk. All five of these players have played well enough in the first half of the season to earn some extra looks at being selected as an All-Star.
The popular vote went to Giordano, and rightfully so. He’s having a career-year at age 35, and he’s shown very little signs of slowing down. Giordano has been one of the league’s best defencemen, and one of the Flames’ best players. A player that is depended on in all situations, Giordano has been playing Norris-calibre hockey and rightfully deserves to go to the All-Star Game.
My pick for the All-Star Game; however, would not be the captain. There is no doubt that any of the players listed can make the trip and fit right in, but my pick would have to be for Big Save Dave. The All-Star game is mainly a promotional event for the league, and who better to do it than the one guy who loves the sport of hockey like no other. Rittich, who’s been stellar all season long, also brings a personality unparalleled in the league.
Seriously, if Rittich is selected, there needs to be 24/7 Rittich-Cam. That alone would be a spectacle and bring much more delight to the All-Star weekend.
The Flames’ penalty kill has looked excellent thus far. They’re not only killing penalties with great efficiency, but they are also scoring shorthanded goals. In fact, Mark Jankowski and Travis Hamonic both scored on the penalty kill in their latest game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames are currently leading the league with 12 shorthanded goals, followed by the Arizona Coyotes with 11, the Canucks sit third with six.
The Flames should look for more opportunities to use the penalty kill to spark offence. Adding Michael Frolik to the four-man units would be a good way to combine defensive responsibility with offensive production. He’s done well on the penalty kill before is has been highly dependable, but on top of that, it’d be a good way to gauge where his game is relative to where he was prior to injury. Frolik is the by far the most logical option.
However, opting for a less popular choice again, my pick would actually be Monahan. He’s putting up phenomenal scoring numbers, but a lesser known part of his on-ice performance is that he’s also leading the team with takeaways. His defensive ability has rounded into form this season and the ability to force a turnover while on the penalty kill will not go unnoticed. It wouldn’t surprise me if Monahan added to to his goal totals if he was on the penalty kill.
Not listed as a part of the poll as the coaching staff probably won’t do it… but imagine Gaudreau on the penalty kill. This season, he’s drawn more penalties than anyone else on the Flames; nullifying power plays and opening up the ice for 4v4 play would probably work out in the Flames’ favour more often than not too. Not to mention Gaudreau’s seemed to have his stick in the right places to pick up errant pucks. It would be a fun experiment that could bring back larger than expected dividends.
Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images