From an expectations standpoint, the Calgary Flames should be more angry and frustrated than the Vancouver Canucks this season. The defending Pacific Division champs didn’t exactly come out of the blocks on fire and the mediocrity for them has continued for the first two months of the season.
The Flames sit in 5th place in the division with 31 points, one slot and four points ahead of the Canucks who have a game in hand.
Calgary’s power play is ranked 25th in the NHL; it’s penalty kill in decent shape ranked 6th. Netminding has been an issue, with former Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom struggling to find a foothold. He actually lost the number-one position to back-up Dan Vladar.
Markstrom’s last five starts, spread out over three weeks, saw him earn a record of 1-3-and-1. Maybe he turned a corner on Monday night when he made 37 saves in a 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The truly upsetting stat from the game was that Calgary only mustered one goal in regulation against the Habs for the second time in less than two weeks. Markstrom and the Flames lost to Montreal by the same score on December 1st in regulation.
Despite adding veteran scoring winger Jonathan Huberdeau, versatile Stanley Cup winning centre Nazem Kadri, and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar to replace the outgoing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, the chemistry hasn’t clicked yet.
In a season when overall NHL scoring is up more than it has been in decades, the Flames are ranked 22nd in the league, scoring 2.97 goals per game.
The Canucks will hope the trend continues for at least one more night.
On Tuesday night Alexander Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to reach the 800 career goal plateau, joining “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky and “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe.
‘Ovie’ did it in classic style by scoring a hat trick in the Washington Capitals 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. Excited for the milestone, the Chicago fans littered the ice with hats, a very rare event for any visiting player anywhere.
Ovechkin scored the first two goals of the game at the :24 second and 8:14 marks of the 1st period, and then finished off the trick and reached the plateau at the 6:34 mark of the 3rd period.
Anthony Mantha and Evgeny Kuznetsov hold the distinction of picking up the assists on goal 800. They and/or someone else will earn similar notoriety on goal 801, the one that ties Howe for second all-time, and then on 802, the one that passes him.
All three goals on Tuesday night were loose pucks off rebounds and caroms.
Ovie on the spot.
Enjoy the Hockey Action!!