Come April 2019, the Avengers will be doing #WhateverItTakes to stop Thanos, and the Calgary Flames will be doing #WhateverItTakes to win the Stanley Cup.
Not unlike the Avengers, the Flames have enjoyed their fair share of stopping the bad guys. They’ve ascended to the top of the NHL, only behind the Thanos Bay Lightning.
As the playoffs draw closer, the sense of uncertainty and excitement take over many fan bases. All but one team will face tragedy; the last remaining team tasting triumph.
What differentiates the Flames from the rest of the teams; however, is that they have the Infinity Stones on their side. While the Lightning appear almighty and unyielding in their dominance, it is Bill Peters who actually wields the Infinity Gauntlet.
Recall during Avengers: Infinity War starring Coach Peters, he encountered Thanos on Titan without Peter Quill around, which is why Peters definitely has the Gauntlet and not Thanos. Rewatch the scene again if you’re still in doubt.
All season long, the Flames have been led to victory from six players, and each one possesses elements of each of the six Infinity Stones. The only Stone they’re missing from their arsenal is really just the Mark Stone.
Time Stone — Mark Giordano
Allows the user to see into the past and the future; stop, slow down, speed up or reverse the flow of time; travel through time; change the past and the future; age and de-age beings, and trap people or entire universes in unending loops of time. At full potential, the Time [Stone] grants the user omniscience and total control over the past, present, and future.Wikipedia
If there is anyone that defies time, it’s Mark Giordano. An ageless wonder, he has mastered time itself. When on the ice, whatever pace he chooses to play at, the rest of the skaters on the ice follow suit. Few players can go from end-to-end like Giordano does and still maintain both the offensive the defensive edge, time and time again.
Often seen on the ice in all situations, Giordano leads all Flames in time on ice. Coincidence? Absolutely not. He controls time itself, of course he’s going to get most playing time.
Whether it’s breaking into the offensive zone to score, or catching an opponent on a breakaway, Giordano speeds the game up or slows the game down to just the right level. When attacking, he’ll activate at the right time, opting to go deep into the zone to maintain possession, or perfectly pinch to keep the play onside.
When defending, he rarely makes mistakes. After all, he already knows what’s going to happen. Sometimes he makes a play that results in a goal against, but that’s only because in the 14,000,605 alternate futures, Giordano knows exactly when to make a sacrifice. All for the sake of winning the Cup.
Soul Stone — Sean Monahan
Allows the user to steal, control, manipulate, and alter living and dead souls. The Soul [Stone] is also the gateway to an idyllic pocket universe. At full potential, the Soul [Stone] grants the user control over all life in the universe.Wikipedia
Sean Monahan has been one of the Flames’ most cerebral players. His stoic nature perfectly encapsulates his lack of empathy for his opponents. He scores at will and gives zero regards to the souls of opposing goalies.
Boasting a career shooting percentage of 14.9%, he’s efficient and methodically takes matters into his own hands. One of Calgary’s most prolific young scorers, he can turn the entire flow of a game with just a single snap(shot).
Monahan’s ability to seal wins for the Flames does not go unnoticed, already having 34 game winning goals credited to his name. To wield such power, he must sacrifice that in which he loves. Obviously, for a guy like Monahan, he loves nothing more than scoring. As part of his biggest sacrifice, scoring goals has left him entirely for the final stretch of the season. A necessary deed in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
Space Stone — Johnny Gaudreau
Allows the user to exist in any location; move any object anywhere throughout reality; warp or rearrange space; teleport themselves and others; increase their speed, and alter the distance between objects contrary to the laws of physics. At full potential, the Space [Stone] grants the user omnipresence.Wikipedia
No other player controls the ice quite like Johnny Gaudreau does. No matter where he is, it always seems like Gaudreau has the puck on a string and can take it wherever he pleases.
In one moment, Gaudreau will be entering the offensive zone; the next, he’s already behind the net. Next thing you know, he’s already found a teammate to pass the puck to, all before returning to the slot to receive the puck once more and take a perfect shot.
All over the ice at any given time, no other player controls space like Gaudreau does. He can take a shot at any angle and can score. Warping space itself, the puck is always at Gaudreau’s mercy.
Behind the goal line? He can score. In between the hash-marks? He can score? By the boards? He’ll thread a perfect pass through the royal road. When defenders give him no space, he creates his own.
Mind Stone — Matthew Tkachuk
Allows the user to enhance their mental and psionic abilities and access the thoughts and dreams of other beings. At full potential, when backed by the Power [Stone], the Mind [Stone] can access all minds in existence simultaneously. The Mind [Stone] is also the manifestation of the universal subconscious.Wikipedia
If there’s a player on the Flames’ roster that has access to the thoughts and dreams (or nightmares) of others, it’s Matthew Tkachuk. Always getting under the skin of his opponent, he wreaks total havoc on the ice, entirely messing with the psyches of many players. In fact, he’s fully taken over the mind of an unnamed defenceman on the Los Angeles Kings roster.
Throughout his rookie and sophomore seasons, Tkachuk established a reputation of making friends everywhere he goes. Some players endear him so much, they’ve resorted to calling him a turtle.
Tkachuk has also been seen to literally embrace the Power Stone at the end of every battle that the Flames emerge victorious, harnessing more power for himself.
Some of the best instances of Tkachuk using the his powers were seen when he totally unravels the cognitive ability of opposing goaltenders, rendering their netminding totally useless game in and game out.
Reality Stone — Elias Lindholm
Allows the user to fulfill their wishes, even if the wish is in direct contradiction with scientific laws, and do things that would normally be impossible; and create any type of alternate reality the user wishes. At full potential, when backed by the other [Stones], the Reality [Stone] allows the user to alter reality on a universal scale.Wikipedia
Elias Lindholm has fully unleashed his power, changing his reality from a middling disappointment in Carolina to that of a bona fide superstar in Calgary. He’s now in his perfect reality.
In five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, Lindholm scored 188 points. Less than one full season with the Calgary Flames, he’s already posted 77, demolishing his previous career high of 45 points. Unsustainable? Perhaps. But the Reality Stone pays no attention to the unsustainable.
He’s willed his way into being a point-per-game player thus far this season, and at worst, will finish the regular season with a very formidable 0.94 points per game.
Lindholm created a reality for himself and his teammates this season that they can all enjoy. Lord Zebulon, Swedish descendant of the Norse, has channeled in him an energy so powerful on the ice that the Asgardians would have no choice but to be proud of.
Power Stone — David Rittich
Allows the user to access and manipulate all forms of energy; enhance their physical strength and durability; enhance any superhuman ability; and boost the effects of the other five [Stones]. At full potential, the Power [Stone] grants the user omnipotence.Wikipedia
The biggest form of energy for the Calgary Flames comes from David Rittich. Big Save Dave and his Big Save Energy have elevated the Flames to victory time and time again. Rittich has undoubtedly boosted the other five stones throughout the season. He’s made the Flames better; there’s no argument there.
Rittich has erupted with unfathomable amounts of energy several times this season already. From bursting out of his net and pushing Noah Hanifin out of the way to hunt down Dustin Byfuglien for taking a late poke at him, to tossing his broken stick down the ice in frustration, to joining in with Lindholm to fire back at the Carolina crowd with a Skol clap of their own. The energy Rittich brings to the Flames is at a level in which only he can control.
He’s an invigorating force on the team. Instilling confidence in his captain, celebrating Gaudreau’s eventual overtime goal well before it was anywhere close to being a goal, catching Tkachuk in his arms after every win, the list goes on. He’s even channeled the energy of all-time Flames goaltending greats by paying tribute to Miikka Kiprusoff and Mike Vernon on his mask.
Big Save Dave is indeed a super human.
“We’re in the endgame now.”
The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs are just around the corner, and the fates of 16 teams will be decided in a three month long battle of the ages. Sacrifices will be made, the best teams in the league will all fall, one by one. Thanos Bay may look too powerful, but it’s the endgame now. The Flames will emerge victorious at the end of it all; the Infinity Stones being their best weapon.
The Stanley Cup will return to its rightful home in Calgary come June, perfectly engraved with the names of the Calgary Flames, as all Stanley Cups should be.
Original photos by Mark Humphrey/Associated Press, Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images, Derek Leung/Getty Images