Finally, a positive article can be written about the Flames’ play. Specifically, this article is going to focus on the play of one Flame–Sam Bennett. However, before I discuss one of the Flames’ lone bright spot during this dismal start to the season I would like to commend them on winning two of their last three games. I understand beating the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers (we will ignore the 6-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche for now) does not mean that the team should now be defined as world beaters; however, it’s a start. Looking more closely at last nights 2-1 OT win against the Flyers we finally got a glimpse of how we all thought the team would play coming into the season–a tight checking close game where the Flames would produce just enough offense to get the win.
Indeed, that is exactly what happened and how the team won was not lost on the players. The common theme coming from post game press conferences was that the team as whole finally played the right way in all situations for the entirety of the game. The two problems that the Flames have had thus far has been their third period performances (outscored 23-10) and their goaltenders unable to come up with key saves, last night neither was an issue. With a game at home against the hot Pittsburgh Penguins followed by a potentially season defining four game road trip generating momentum off the well-rounded performance against the Flyers will be key.
While the Flames’ win against the Flyers is big news, possibly the biggest team related news from Thursday was the promotion of Sam Bennett to the Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau line. Indeed, Bennett has been one of the few bright spots for the team during this slow start to the season. Since Bennett was called up for last season’s playoff run, he could always be deemed as one of the Flames’ hardest working players and it has been over the past week that we have finally started to see his efforts rewarded consistently. Specifically, Bennett has points in four of his last five games, he is fifth on the team in scoring, and ninth in NHL rookie scoring. Playing top line minutes with Monahan and Gaudreau will allow him to further evolve his offensive game and get the necessary experience of playing against opponents top checkers.
Bennett’s promotion to the top line is just the culmination of his hard work and hopefully accelerates his development into a star two-way player. Furthermore, the move of Bennett to the top line further highlights that management believes the season will be saved by the guys on the current roster; specifically, the guys in their early 20s that make up the top line. I commend management for having faith in their group, let’s just hope that the pressure trying to ensure that the team meets its expectations does not harm the terrific trio that all teams would kill to have.