The red-hot Flames stretched their NHL-long winning streak to seven games and moved into second place in the Pacific Division with a 4-1 victory over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Sunday.
THE BROOMS ARE OUT…AGAIN
After sweeping a three game home stand, the Flames hit the road, swept a four-game trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, Tampa and Sunrise, Florida and Raleigh, North Carolina, and will head into their five-day break as the hottest team in the NHL with seven straight wins.
THE FLAMES ARE RISING
Going into their first game of 2018 on January 4, the Flames were 11 points behind the Los Angeles Kings in the standings. With Sunday’s win, the Flames passed the Kings and moved into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings do have two games in hand on the Flames, so it will be interesting to see where Glen Gulutzan’s group is in the standings following their five-day break.
NO MONAHAN, NO PROBLEM
Already without injured forwards Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik and Jaromir Jagr, the Flames’ forward depth was really tested on Sunday when they were without their leading goal scorer Sean Monahan for the first time this season.
Monahan, who started the day tied for eighth in the Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy race with 21 goals and a six-game point streak, missed Sunday’s game with an illness.
Sam Bennett, who has been playing really well on the left side of the Flames third line with Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway, was promoted to first line centre for Sunday’s game. Playing between Johnny Gaudreau and Micheal Ferland, Bennett played strong defensively.
Without Monahan, Gaudreau still managed to extend his point streak to seven games with a pair of assists, moving into a tie for second place in the Art Ross Trophy race.
HAMILTON HEATING UP
With two goals in Sunday’s 4-1 win, Dougie Hamilton stretched his point streak to five games (and six points).
With four goals in the last five games, Hamilton moved into a tie for the team lead in goals by defencemen and his eight tallies so far this season are tied for fifth-most by a blue-liner in the NHL. While Hamilton has been pretty good all season, I think he’s been really good in the last 10 games, offensively and defensively.
Hamilton has been more assertive without the puck and has made better decisions with it.
FOURTH LINE FLYIN’
The Flames’ fourth line, which has been playing really well, was finally rewarded on Sunday.
Marek Hrivik was solid in his Flames debut. Curtis Lazar snapped a nine-game pointless streak with a assist on Matt Stajan’s goal, which was his first of the season. With the goal, Stajan snapped a 10-game pointless streak and 37-game goalless streak dating back to March 31 of last season.
Early in the season, the Flames weren’t getting enough from their bottom-six forwards. That hasn’t been the case of late.