Milan Lucic is praised by interim coach Geoff Ward after scoring his first objective as a Calgary Flame in a video game against Buffalo recently. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

He talked with them about their households. He talked about their pastimes. He listened to their opinions about their own efficiency which of a team that looked nothing like the group that finished initially last season in the Western Conference.

Ward, a former school teacher, also shuffled his lines in an effort to take advantage of the depth the Flames possess. Down to the third line went superstar Johnny Gaudreau. As much as the very first line came hard-working sophomore Andrew Mangiapane.

Gaudreau's current battles are a favourite topic of discussion in cubicle land and construction websites throughout southern Alberta. Gaudreau tied Nathan MacKinnon for seventh overall in scoring last season with 99 points. This season, Gaudreau is ranked 69th with just 23 points in 31 video games.

On Saturday, the Scotiabank Saddledome emerged when Gaudreau danced up the ice. The wee winger eluded four Los Angeles Kings prior to feeding Sean Monahan for his eighth goal of the season.

Maybe, simply maybe, the man they call Johnny Hockey is back.

"He's got a bit of that swagger back," Ward stated. "He's done a fantastic job of giving himself to the group. Due to the fact that he's in that group state of mind, he's had 2 really great games."

Throughout this four-game winning streak, the most harmful trio on the Flames has been Derek Ryan in the middle between Lucic and Dillon Dube, a recent call-up from the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.

"I simply believe it's 4 lines deep right now," Dube stated. "It could be the group prior to us that wears them down and we jump on the ice, they're rushing and we have momentum.

"It's simply been actually good energy by our group."

"Every video game for us is a big game," Ward stated. "We've got to start getting some traction. Ward, a former school teacher, also shuffled his lines in an attempt to capitalize on the depth the Flames have."He's got a little bit of that swagger back," Ward stated."I simply believe it's four lines deep right now," Dube said.

The hockey headings in Calgary nowadays have altered in tone from depressing and dark to levity and light.

In the background, in the meantime, is talk of previous head coach Bill Peters and his termination for racist remarks said a years earlier to small leaguer Akim Aliu. Also on the backburner is the story of a disengaged Flames team playing far listed below its potential.

Instead, Calgarians are gushing over the abrupt four-game winning streak under interim head coach Geoff Ward, going into Monday's game versus the Colorado Avalanche. They're commemorating the reality Tobias Rieder-- who went the entire 2018-19 season without a goal for the Edmonton Oilers-- won a vehicle last Thursday for a fan by scoring a shorthanded marker during the in-house Minute to Win It promotion.

They're laughing over the fight that broke out throughout a TV timeout Saturday in between L.A. Kings forward Kyle Clifford and Flames newbie Zac Rinaldo.

"I was seeing the girls trying to shovel the ice and they looked frightened as these guys were preparing yourself to drop their gloves," Ward said with a laugh after the Flames dispatched the Kings 4-3 on Hockey Night in Canada.


"I do not think we've ever seen a fight when the shovelers are out there," remarked forward Milan Lucic, who notched an objective in each of that previous two games after going without in his very first 27.

"I believed he was fighting the goalie for a 2nd," netminder Cam Talbot stated of Rinaldo. "I was prepared."

While the hockey world comes to grips with the fallout from the Peters shooting-- and with claims streaming about abusive practices in coaching-- the Flames(15-12-4) are trying to block it all out and concentrate on reversing their season.

Nobody in Calgary will start preparing playoff celebrations on the Red Mile-- even with a road win over Buffalo and home triumphes over Ottawa, Buffalo and Los Angeles.

The real test comes today with road dates in Colorado and Arizona before returning house to deal with Toronto and Carolina.

"Every video game for us is a big game," Ward said. "We've got to begin getting some traction. We've got to begin getting some points back, so we can begin climbing up the standings and put ourselves back in the playoff chase."

After officially taking over Nov. 29 from Peters, Ward took a seat with all his players individually.