Calgary Flames

Sunday Census: Appreciating Cam Talbot and all the other qualifier heroes

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!

They did it. Sure, they faced an injury riddled team with a weak defense corps, but they did it! The Calgary Flames have advanced to Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And the best part is they’re the only team in Alberta that gets to say it.

This Sunday Census is first and foremost dedicated to Cam Talbot. For all that was made of the huge advantage the Winnipeg Jets had with the likely Vezina winner tending the pipes, Talbot really proved why he was chosen to start the series. He finished as the better goalie in the series, with a better GAA and SV%, and a commanding shutout victory in the series clinching game. Talk about impressive.

The Flames wouldn’t be here without Talbot. To continue through the playoffs they will continue to need Talbot. But unlike so many games started by both Flames goalies during the regular season, the entire team showed up for this postseason series. It wasn’t just the goalie who stole the show, it was a full team effort. After a string of disappointing finishes to Flames seasons, it was a nice welcomed change for all of us to see almost every Flame contribute in a meaningful way to win.

Our first poll this week asked Flames fans which player was the most impressive in the series?

There were plenty of people who replied back saying the obvious choice was Talbot. We completely agree, but wanted to see who else had impressed everyone at home.

The little workhorse Andrew Mangiapane took almost half the votes in this poll, and it’s a great choice. Mangiapane continues to improve in almost every single game he plays in, or so it seems. Since being promoted to the 3M line, he’s elevated his game and really proven why he belongs in the top-six of an NHL team. He works so hard and doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s usually the smallest player on the ice. He’ll hit you, hound you, and pester you until you make a mistake, and he’s always ready to make a slick pass or a slick deke to create a scoring chance. He’s going to cost a lot of money to keep in town, but he’ll be worth every penny.

Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm were second and third respectively. Both had a stellar series, and both stuck to their style of play. Tkachuk was a thorn in the side of the whole team including the Jets’ coach, and Lindholm was his steady self who scored goals on one end and prevented them on the other.

Johnny Gaudreau was a very distant fourth in this poll. It’s a little upsetting more people didn’t feel like he had impressed as much as the others on the list. I feel like he answered a lot of critics with his play in the qualifying round. He was electric, created tons of scoring opportunities, and looked like vintage Gaudreau on almost every shift. Maybe continuing his play through the next round will help.

The next poll took a slightly different approach, asking fans which player surprised them the most in the series.

Once again, the superb play by Talbot is an easy and correct choice here. Outside of him, Milan Lucic was the runaway winner of this poll.

Another excellent choice, Lucic did everything you could have possibly asked of him and more. He finished the series as a point-per-game player, was an absolute beast on every shift, was involved in scrums and scraps, and was overall a very influential player for the Flames. If that’s the Lucic we see for the whole playoffs the Flames will be in good shape. It’s also great to see the chemistry growing with Sam Bennett, and the player who was second in the poll: Dillon Dube.

Wow. What can be said about Dube? He’s come such a long way from last season. He looks calm, composed, and mature out there in the brightest of lights. He’s fit in marvelously on the Flames’ third line and that line did a phenomenal job in all three zones against the Jets. It was great to see Dube rewarded with the game winner in Game 4 and he looks like he’ll be an important part of this team for years to come.

Erik Gustafsson also received some votes. He played well on the Fames’ red hot top powerplay unit and he’s looking great in that position. Sean Monahan, however, was a very, very distant fourth place in this poll. We even received some flack on Twitter for including him in the poll to begin with. I don’t really think that’s fair.

Monahan had an incredible series. He was dangerous every single time he shot the puck, and actually sits among the league leaders in counting stats through the qualifying round so far. He has the fifth most points, fourth most goals, and third most assists. He’s been the elite finisher he’s been known to be throughout his career, and it’s great to see his line firing right out the gate. For all of you sleeping on how good Monahan was, hopefully he can continue his play and raise more eyebrows in Round 1.

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.

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