Rss

Hockey is a wonderful sport. But let’s not kid ourselves, friends: not all games are created equally. Sometimes you to go the rink for a Wednesday night game against Minnesota and come away feeling like you’ve lost hours of your life. Other times you come away wishing the next game would start in minutes, rather than days.

Here are the 10 best Calgary Flames games – for significance, entertainment value and sheer wow factor – from the 2010s.

Jan. 7, 2012: Jarome Iginla’s 500th goal

It wasn’t picturesque. But after a few games of trying and failing to bury nice chances, the Hockey Gods helped Iginla out. A head-man pass into the slot careened into the Minnesota Wild net off a defender, finally getting the best Flames player of all-time his 500th goal.

It wasn’t picturesque, but Iginla didn’t seem to be mind.

Jan. 18, 2014: The brawl in Vancouver

The rebuild was on. The Flames had muddled through the first half seeking consistency, growth, and an identity. Then-head coach Bob Hartley decided to shake things up by putting out a unique starting lineup: forwards Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan and Blair Jones with defenders Ladislav Smid and Chris Butler. The Canucks countered with Tom Sestito, Dale Weise, Kellan Lain, Jason Garrison and Kevin Bieksa. The puck dropped and things got silly.

The Flames played the rest of the game with four defensemen – including a stretch where Shane O’Brien was unavailable for 10 minutes due to taking a misconduct and they had to roll with just three – and somehow got a point out of this circus.

Improbably, the insanity galvanized an “us against the world” sentiment in the Flames room and they ended up going on a tear for the remainder of the regular season.

Mar, 22, 2014: Matt Stajan’s penalty shot

As 2014 began, Matt Stajan and his wife were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child. Tragically, Emerson passed away shortly after his birth. Given the fact that the Flames were well out of the playoff picture – and the tight-knit nature of the group – the club told Stajan to take all the time he needed to deal with the loss.

After a couple weeks away from the team, Stajan returned to action. In his second game, an 8-1 clobbering of the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place, Stajan scored a pretty memorable goal on a penalty shot.

Oct. 15, 2014: Jonas Hiller stops 49 shots

Hiller joined the Flames as a free agent in 2014-15 and given the club’s non-Kiprusoff history of goaltenders, you can understand why people were a tad hesitant to get excited. On Oct. 15, in the second half of a back-to-back (and in the midst of a six game road trip), Hiller got a start in Chicago.

He faced 50 shots. He stopped 49 of them in the best single game goaltending performance the Flames had seen in decades.

Oct. 19, 2014: Johnny Gaudreau sticks around

Gaudreau didn’t have a great start to his first full NHL season. He played five very ordinary games to start the 2014-15 season and chatter was emerging that maybe he needed some AHL seasoning. He was healthy scratched on Oct. 17 in Columbus and dressed for the final game of the team’s road trip in Winnipeg. A trip to the AHL was probably looming.

Gaudreau silenced his doubters with a superb game against the Jets. In just 12:52 of ice-time – only Devin Setoguchi and Brandon Bollig played less – he had the game-winning goal and an assist.

Dec. 22, 2014: Johnny Gaudreau saves Christmas

By mid-season, Gaudreau had gone from “Hey, maybe he should be in the AHL” to “Hey, maybe he’ll be something special.” The Flames headed into Los Angeles for their final pre-Christmas game hoping to snap an eight game losing skid, a tall order against a team that had their number in previous meetings.

By 4:32 into the second period, the Flames were down 3-0 and seemed well on their way to loss number nine. Then Gaudreau took over the game, scoring his first career hat trick – including the game-tying goal to force overtime in the final minute of regulation. Mark Giordano scored the winner in overtime. Christmas was saved.

Apr. 9, 2015: The Flames clinch a playoff spot

The atmosphere in the Saddledome was electric for the final home game of 2014-15, a date with the Kings. Los Angeles was desperate, trying to stave off elimination from playoff contention a year removed from a Stanley Cup win. The Flames were playing with house money and played arguably their best game of the rebuild. The Flames won 3-1 to clinch their first playoff berth since 2009.

Apr. 25, 2015: The Flames win a playoff round

First round playoff match-ups are always chaotic for the Flames, particularly when they line up with the Canucks. The Flames headed home for Game 6 in the first round with a hard-fought 3-2 series lead, hoping to advance to the second round for the first time since 2004.

The Flames got out to a bad start. Hiller allowed two goals on the first three shots. Karri Ramo, in relief, was beaten on one of the first shots he faced to get the Flames down 3-0. But the Flames got to work and the game got crazy. Three Flames goals made it 3-3. Vancouver made it 4-3. And in the third period, the Flames found another gear and skated to a triumphant 7-4 victory.

Stajan scored the winning goal to push the Flames into the second round.

May 5, 2015: An epic comeback

The second round in 2014-15 wasn’t nearly as fun as the first round. But the Flames’ lone win was pretty epic. Down 2-0 in the series and playing their first game on home ice, they chased for almost the entire game.

But Gaudreau tied things up with 20 seconds left in regulation and Mikael Backlund scored in overtime to seal the comeback victory.

Nov. 17, 2018: A defining win over Edmonton

It’s easy to point to the Flames’ 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh as their defining game of 2018-19. And yeah, it was a big kick in the butt for the Flames. But a few weeks later the Flames played the Edmonton Oilers in front of a raucous crowd. They came out flat and Edmonton utterly baffled them in the first period. Then Zack Kassian received 16 minutes in penalties for a late first period scrap – Matthew Tkachuk was criticized for “turtling,” but his restraint took Edmonton’s best agitator off the ice for the better part of a period.

The Flames gave up a Connor McDavid goal early in the second period, then took the game over. In a 40 minute performance that set the template for the rest of their regular season success, they beat Edmonton 4-2 in an emotional game. The Flames went on a tear afterwards, while the Oilers sputtered.