All the signs were there that this could be another harsh loss for the Calgary Flames. The IR list taunted me, LA was a physical team with a lot of power while the Flames have been lacking in physicality lately, Ramo had an injury scare in practice that morning, and the Flames have been going through a rough time in the last few games. To say the least, I was not looking forward to watching this tilt play out on the ice.
I sat with my jaw agape, staring as the Flames held off their tough opponent to stay in the game. Bouma drew penalties all game which helped to keep the momentum going. The Kings have one of the best PKs in the league and the Flames have one of the worst PPs so the penalties against them didn’t amount to much. It was scoreless after the first period.
The Flames looked shaky as they started the second. But it didn’t last long and they got into their groove again. The penalties being called on the Flames were some of the most questionable calls that I’ve seen all season so far, but the team pushed through them all. It was time for the special teams to prove their worth. And they did well. With over seven mins of PK accumulated on the Flames side of things and a full squad on the ice for less than thirteen mins during the entire period, the special teams kept up and killed of every penalty that was handed to them. The flames played physical, doing their best to match the notorious rough play of the LA Kings.
In what could have been a game changer, Smid took a run at LA’s Dwight King against the boards, King turned last min and drew not only a penalty but also a misconduct, and Smid was thrown out of the game. We lost a good part of our defense at a critical time in the game. What could have been a disastrous event turned into our shining moment instead. During the Smid five-min penalty, the Calgary Flames dug deep and found the grit that has seemingly disappeared as of late and it paid off with a short-handed goal. Calgary was ready to rumble during the second period as they killed off over seven minutes of penalties.
Because the Flames are notorious for letting things fall apart in the third period, I sat on the edge of my seat throughout the period and I wondered when it would happen. Brodie stepped up in Smid’s absence and took the brunt of the defensive position, making save after save in the third period, keeping the Flames from burning out. Backlund stepped up his offensive play and carried the puck into the King’s zone to give Calgary more chances at the LA net. Ramo was solid in net, saving all but one shot on goal.
Just as I was convinced that we were heading to overtime, three players took the reins and controlled the play in the King’s zone. Stempniak tossed a pass to Cammalleri, who carried it deep and fought to maintain possession. With Cammalleri pinned against the boards, Stempniak took possession and tossed it to Backlund, who was in good position in front of the net. Backlund made a great pass to Cammalleri, who then back-handed it past the goalie with barely 23 seconds left in the game to avoid overtime and win it for the Calgary Flames.
My 1 Star
Even though I could give my 1 star to Stajan for the great physical play, or to Ramo for his best play in net yet this year, or to Cammalleri for getting the game winning goal, I have decided to give it to Ladislav Smid instead.
Yes, he only played half the game but he deserves my 1 star in spite of the excessive misconduct call against him. His blocked shots were a thing of beauty, his physical play is something that the Flames have needed for a long time, and he’s starting to fit in well and find his role on this team. He’s a big body in front of our net and he’s done a great defensive job since the day he became a part of the team. He sacrifices himself to make the save and he makes it look easy.
Even though it wasn’t the best play that I’ve seen from the Flames, it was one of the best games they’ve had in the past few weeks. The defensive players looked solid, the offensive players took more chances, and Ramo held his ground in net. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done, but this game was proof that it CAN be done and Calgary has the potential to be victorious.