Unless the Flames can give history the middle finger and turn around years of misery in Anaheim, this year’s playoff run may be shorter than the Flames’ last trip to the playoffs two years ago. But talking to GM Brad Treliving, he says this year’s edition of the club is actually a much better team, and it’s impossible to argue.
The watchword that year was ‘over-achievement.’ Everywhere you looked, someone was putting up a statistical anomaly. Jiri Hudler went from 17 goals to 31. Lance Bouma went from nowhere to 16 goals. Dennis Wideman looked like the offensive force from the point the Flames were paying him to be. And of course, Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller took turns punching above their weight in goal.
Two years later, just over half of that roster is still in room, and that’s counting Sam Bennett and Michael Ferland, who were just wide eyed kids getting their first taste of the NHL along with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, just starting to grow as team leaders.
This year the core is largely the same, but those kids are two years older and wiser. Mikael Backlund, Micheal Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk provide second line support that didn’t exist then. A healthy Mark Giordano and a growing Dougie Hamilton anchor the blue line. and after a rocky start, Brian Elliot gives the team a legit number one goaltender, not two journeyman who forced the coach to play a guessing game of who’s hot.
Yes, the run for this team might be shorter than what we say two season ago. But the future when it’s all said and done looks a lot brighter.