November was one of the most tumultuous times to be a Flames fan in recent memory. Between a horrendous stretch of hockey on the ice, coaching issues off the ice, concerns about City Council pulling the funding for the new arena, injuries, and so much more, it has been a trying time for many Flames fans. While the team has looked better of late, picking up points in their last four games, and new Head Coach Geoff Ward sitting 2-0-0 so far, the Flames still have a long way to go before they are a real contender in a very tough Western Conference. That being said, we think we all need a little bit of good news to brighten our mood around this team. Here are some great stories to cheer you up.
1. The Third Line
The biggest good news story for the Flames throughout this slump has been the new look third line with Derek Ryan centering Milan Lucic and Dillon Dube. The three moustached gentlemen have looked dynamite together since Dube was recalled from The Stockton Heat.
Posting a 55.8% CF in three games together while starting only 32% of their shifts in the offensive zone, they have been a ball of energy on the ice, driving play and stopping teams from breaking out of their own zones. Dube and Ryan led the team in CF% in the shutout loss against the St. Louis Blues, and although Lucic has looked slow this season, he looked much much better with these two on his line. Finding a spot for Lucic that doesn’t hurt the team is a huge win.
With Dube having a history of being pushed around going back to last season, having Lucic next to him has allowed him to show why he is such a promising prospect for this Flames team. This line has been one bright spot on an otherwise very burnt Flames team.
The lines were juggled for practice yesterday, but chances are this line sticks together more often than not.
2. Rasmus Andersson
The Swedish sensation has been a stalwart on the Flames blueline, looking even better than he did last season. While Rasmus Andersson has bounced between defense pairings, he has looked capable and confident in every situation the Flames have thrown him in. Averaging about 16 minutes a night, the former second round pick has looked right at home alongside Captain Mark Giordano posting a 53.8% CF in 25 games.
Not only that, he has also been a positive xGF%, SCF% and HCDF% player for the Flames so far this season. His offensive outputs have looked just as good as his defensive. Not too bad for just his second full season in the NHL.
3. Stockton Prospects
While the Flames have struggled to win in the NHL, things have been going very well for the farm team down in California. Currently sitting second in the Pacific Division, the Stockton Heat have been absolutely rolling so far this season.
A number of Flames prospects have been leading the charge, Matthew Phillips and Glenn Gawdin being two of the most impressive. Phillips has seven goals and 14 assists in 20 games, and Gawdin is just shy of that with seven goals and 12 assists. When Phillips was drafted in the sixth round and Gawdin was signed out of junior as a free agent, there were a number of question marks around both prospects’ ability to translate their game to the professional leagues. For Phillips, the question mark was about his size, and for Gawdin it was whether he was good enough away from two top prospect linemates in Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi. Both players seem to being showing their individual strengths as players, and it is probably a matter of time before we see them up in Calgary.
4. Junior Prospects
Taken in the first round last year by the Flames, Jakob Pelletier has been an absolute standout for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL this season. Posting numerous multi-point games, he currently has 48 points in 25 games, good for third in the league. He’s been invited to try out for Canada’s World Juniors squad too, and he’s got a real shot to be part of that stacked team
Sitting in sixth is another impressive Flames prospect: Dmitry Zavgorodniy. Unfortunately, Zavgorodniy is out for 8-12 weeks with a collarbone injury, but he’s had an incredible start to the season with 43 points in just 23 games.
Last but definitely not least, goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf is off to another stellar start for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL. He is rocking a 1.94 GAA, .940 SV%, and has amassed four shutouts through 19 games this season. With each game he plays, the case for Wolf being one of the best seventh rounders for the Flames gets stronger and stronger.
5. The Flames’ Pets Calendar
What better way to get over the Flames struggling on the ice than to look at our good boys with even gooder pups! The Flames have launched their first pet calendar in support of Healthy Paws Forward Veterinary Hospital. With proceeds going towards improving care for shelter and rescue animals, this is a perfect way to help cheer you up with how the Flames have been performing this season. Pick yours up on the Flames website.