The talk of the NHL this season has been the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts currently have 104 points and are the best team in the league. This team can put the puck in the net, kill you on special teams, and get excellent goaltending. You put those things together and you have yourself an elite hockey team.
With that said, however, there is one team that is getting things done and yet no one seems to talk about them. This particular club is currently the second best team in the league and is a legitimate threat to win the Cup this season.
I am talking about the Calgary Flames. As of this writing, this team has 89 points and is in first place not only in the Pacific Division, but also in the entire Western Conference.
The club has also played unbelievably well in their last ten games. The team is 7-2-1 in this stretch and has shown that they can compete with anyone in both the West and the NHL as a whole.
For the Flames, it starts with their offense. The team is fourth in the league in goals scored with 232 goals in 65 games and they are averaging close to four goals per game.
Leading the way for the Flames is Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau, currently has 83 points on 30 goals and 53 assists and has contributed offense in every single way for his hockey club.
This is a player who is a threat in so many ways when he has the puck. He can dangle, he can come at you with speed, he has great vision, and he also has a terrific shot. If he can continue his strong play and bring it into the playoffs, the team’s offense can continue to be lethal.
Gaudreau is not the only guy that has been putting up points this season for the Flames. Players like Elias Lindholm (72 points), Sean Monahan (70 points), Matthew Tkachuk (61 points), and even defenseman Mark Giordano (61 points) have all put up big numbers this season and it is leading to a lot of wins for this hockey club.
The team has also been solid on the power play. The team is 11th in the league as they have converted about 22 percent of their opportunities with the man advantage.
What’s amazing is that there are five players who have at least 20 points on the power play. Currently, players like Gaudreau (26 points), Lindholm (26 points), Tkachuk (23 points), Monahan (21 points), and Giordano (21) have been the main contributors on the team’s power play, just like they have been the main guys on offense in general.
Believe it or not, this team has been solid defensively as well. As of this writing they are eighth in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 182 goals in 65 games for an average of close to three goals allowed per game.
Helping contribute to this solid number has been the play of 26-year-old netminder David Rittich. Rittich is currently 22-5-5 with a 2.56 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage, and one shutout.
With his strong play, it has made people wonder about Mike Smith. Smith is currently 19-12-2 with a 2.92 goals-against average, a .895 save percentage and two shutouts.
Smith was brought to Calgary prior to last season to be the team’s starting goaltender. Before getting hurt last season, he had been terrific and had showed the Flames why he was worth signing.
It will be interesting to see how the team handle’s the goaltending both for the rest of the regular season and come playoff time. If the team can continue to score goals at the rate they are now, it may not necessarily matter who is between the pipes.
This hockey club is a dangerous one folks and now have Cup aspirations. It will be interesting to see if this season turns into 1989, which is the last time they lifted hockey’s Holy Grail.