What has been going in Calgary? The Flames have seemed to have changed their ways. So why the change of fortune? The Flames have been upping their play and suddenly seem to remember how to play.
What exactly has changed in the Flames’ play? I especially noticed a couple of things. The first is that the Defense has started to pitch in. They jump in the play at a moment’s notice. They look like the old Defense of last year. Gio is beginning to show his true colors. He is playing smart, picking the right times to pitch in.
Brodie is the best D-man on the team right now, bar none. By far he is playing the best hockey he has ever played his best hockey as a Flame. He is getting help with Hamilton’s arrival. His obvious problem was adjusting to the system; he has seemed to have adjusted.
Russell and Wideman are still having issues, but they have improved of late. Seems Russell is getting better as his positional play. He is back to blocking his shots.
So what is still needed? Simply put, more supportive scoring from the forwards. Right now it lacks mostly because of the Frolik. The Flames right now have a terrific top line, but they need more scoring from their second line. Which they were having before the Frolik injury. They need Mr. Hudler to be more visible. For some time, we have not even heard his name, he has to be the Hudler from last year.
Plain and simple, we have to somehow get more results from Backlund. He has all the talent. He has to learn to use the skill that he has. He needs to think with the puck and get smarter.
Sam Bennett is one of the best young players in the game. He must get back to where he was when Frolik was healthy. The Flames have to do a trade, or, better yet, find a linemate who can think like Bennett. He is not quite there to run the line; he needs a smart player to go with him.
That means Ferland has to step up his game to add some offence. Right now, he is one of the best pests in the game. He has to start capitalizing on scoring chances. The problem is, he has to get more scoring chances. That means Bennett has to realize he does not have to do everything himself and start trusting Ferland to give him a chance to score.
I have enjoyed watching the defensive coverage is getting better and getting smarter. The forwards are beginning to take responsibility in their zone. They are hitting and playing physical within the limits. Forwards are helping defense. They are finding ways to win and not to lose. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Flames may not look like they’re trying to improve the team. But I cannot express this enough, they are one of the busiest teams in the League. The problem is, there are not enough sellers and too many buyers. That means the sellers are asking for the moon and the buyers are only offering the stairs. It's a game of chicken; the question is: Will the Flames be the first to cluck?