Rss

A month ago, the Calgary Flames were a team that found ways to lose hockey games. Nowadays, they’re a better (and luckier) team that finds ways to win hockey games. They scored early and often on Tuesday night against Arizona and held on for a 5-2 win.

Speaking to the media following the game, Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward summed up the brief two game road trip:

It was two well-earned wins for us. Our goaltending continues to be good. Both guys gave us good games. And the thing I like about it the most was that everybody that was in the lineup in these two games, made an impact on the hockey games and had an impact on us winning them.

Everybody on the Flames roster played in at least one of the two games. Rittich and Talbot each got wins. The Flames scored 10 goals, scored by eight different players – Sean Monahan and Michael Frolik each scored twice. The fourth line scored three times. There were lots of positives.

Sure, the Flames got out-shot in the Arizona game by a 48-29 margin. 48 shots against is the most the club has allowed all season. Talbot’s 46 saves is the most by a Flames goalie in any game of any length since Jonas Hiller stopped 49 against Chicago in October 2014, and the most in regulation since Dwayne Roloson stopped 46 in March 1998.

But despite getting out-chanced 32-18 at even strength, the Flames managed to beat the Coyotes by a 11-9 margin in high danger chances. During the six games coached by Ward, the Flames have only allowed more high danger chances than they’ve generated once – Monday against Colorado. They’re not a perfect team, but they’re so much better defensively than they were earlier in the season.

The Flames are 7-0-1 in their last eight outings and undefeated in six games under Ward.

Phillips gets the Yelesin treatment

Matthew Phillips joined the Flames for this game on a recall from Stockton, taking warm-up and sitting in the press box as the extra forward. Considering he came up in the afternoon and had zero practice time, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to throw him in cold against a divisional opponent for his debut.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Flames did the whole thing last month with Russian defender Alexander Yelesin. Even if the players don’t play on their call-ups, it’s considered useful for their development for them to be with the team, experience the day-to-day of being a full-time NHLer, and then have a precise idea of what they need to work on in order to get into the lineup.

Matthew Tkachuk is day-to-day with an upper body injury. But the Flames aren’t practicing on Wednesday, so Phillips likely still won’t have much more than a morning skate prior to the Flames’ match-up on Thursday with the Leafs. I wouldn’t expect him to debut in that game, but stranger things have happened.