Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
So, three games, two loses in extra time, and a gutsy road win, what do we make of that?
After Falling 5-4 to the Canucks in overtime, the Flames have managed four out of a possible six points in their first three games, two of which were on the road. All things considered, these first three games have got to be considered a nice surprise for Flames fans, many of whom were/are bracing for a rocky season.
The Flames have scored 12 goals in their first three games, including two from Monahan, two from David Jones, and Two from Hudler. These are all very encouraging things,especially for the former 20 goal scorer David Jones as he will be counted on for secondary scoring throughout the balance of this season.
In Monahan’s case, his play has been largely uneven, producing offensively with three points (2g, 1a) but at times struggling defensively and in the faceoff circle. Monahan’s defensive struggles were highlighted on Sunday’s game against the Canucks as Monahan was a -3 and 5-15 in the circle. While we all know that plus minus is a shoddy indicator of well, anything, it still doesn’t stand of a glowing endorsement of Monahan’s readiness at both ends of the ice.
Stats wise, Monahan is currently sporting a pretty respectable 8.0 rel Corsi with relatively unsheltered minutes.It is obviously pretty early to put much stock into these kinds of stats, but it would appear as thought Monahan is at least treading water possession wise. However, if Monahan keeps scoring at anywhere near this pace, he will likely make it exceptionally difficult to send him back to the 67’s, something that I personally think the Flames intended to do after trading for Joe Colborne last week.
Monahan’s performance has undoubetly given Flames fans a lot to be excited about but that hasn’t been the only encouraging aspect of the first three games of this young season. Heading into this year, many questioned the Flames’ ability to score goals outside of proven producers like Mike Cammalleri. Well, Cammalleri hasn’t played a minute of this season and the Flames have had nine different goal scorers in three games. If the Flames want to have a prayer of relevancy in the Pacific this season, they will need to keep scoring by committee.
Also, the offensive play of Backlund, Baertschi, and Bouma has been very strong so far, with all three producing offensively early on in this season. All three of these players will have to feature prominently in their respective roles this season for the Flames to have sufficient trust in all four lines and a balanced offensive attack.
It has not been all sunshine and lollipops so far this year though. In all three of these games, the Flames have had two goal leads in the third period and have only won once. That is simply not good enough if the Flames want to be taken seriously this year. The Flames have also struggled to keep pucks out of their own net, allowing 13 goals in their first three games and are currently sporting one of the worst penalty killing units in the NHL.
Throughout games 1-3, the defense has looked well, porous. Shane O’Brien is, as many Flames fans had feared, still terrible. Troublingly for fans and management alike, Chris Butler continues to fill a uniform and until these issues are resolved, it is unlikely that the Flames will have a goalie contend for the Jennings. It also looks as thought Dennis Wideman will not be in the Art Ross discussion as his preseason may have teased.
The goaltending has been definitively uninspiring so far, as neither goalie played horridly or terrifically in their first starts. Stats wise, both goalies are not looking so good, with Ramo sporting a .897 SV% and Macdonald’s is at .867. Once again, it is obviously very early to read too much into these kinds of stats but the starts that both netminders are off to are likely not endearing either goalie to the coaching staff.
But this happened:
So, Joey gets a pass for now.
When I looked at the schedule to start the season, I was nearly certain the Flames would not have four points before their sixth game. Needless to say, this start has been fun. So after three games, I am perfectly content to be surprised that the Flames are currently in the hunt to lock up home ice for the entire 2013-14 playoffs. Savor the screenshots of the NHL standings while ye may, it might not look like this again for a while.