Sports Nothing like a Flames winning streak to change the conversation in Calgary

19:14  09 december  2019
19:14  09 december  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

Flames’ T.J. Brodie a game-time decision vs. Penguins

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The hockey headlines in Calgary these days have changed in tone from dark and depressing to levity and light.

In the background, for now, is talk of former head coach Bill Peters and his dismissal for racist comments uttered a decade ago to minor leaguer Akim Aliu. Also on the backburner is the storyline of a disengaged Flames team playing far below its potential.

Instead, Calgarians are gushing over the sudden four-game winning streak under interim head coach Geoff Ward, going into Monday's game against the Colorado Avalanche. They're celebrating the fact Tobias Rieder — who went the entire 2018-19 season without a goal for the Edmonton Oilers — won a car last Thursday for a fan by scoring a shorthanded marker during the in-house Minute to Win It promotion.

Guentzel scores in OT, Penguins beat Flames 3-2

  Guentzel scores in OT, Penguins beat Flames 3-2 PITTSBURGH — Jake Guentzel beat David Rittich on a rush 4:04 into overtime to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Monday night. Jared McCann scored his ninth goal and Alex Galchenyuk got his first with the Penguins. Both had a goal and an assist, helping Pittsburgh get a point for the 11th time in 13 games — eight of those 13 have gone to overtime. Tristan Jarry stopped 32 shots and has allowed two goals or fewer in six of seven games.Dillon Dube scored his first of the season for Calgary and second NHL goal. Sean Monahan added his sixth on a power play as the Flames lost for the seventh time in eight games.

They're laughing over the fight that broke out during a TV timeout Saturday between L.A. Kings forward Kyle Clifford and Flames newcomer Zac Rinaldo.

"I was watching the girls trying to shovel the ice and they looked terrified as these guys were getting ready to drop their gloves," Ward said with a laugh after the Flames dispatched the Kings 4-3 on Hockey Night in Canada.

"I don't think we've ever seen a fight when the shovelers are out there," remarked forward Milan Lucic, who notched a goal in each of that past two games after going without in his first 27.

"I thought he was fighting the goalie for a second," netminder Cam Talbot said of Rinaldo. "I was ready."

While the hockey world grapples with the fallout from the Peters firing — and with allegations streaming about abusive practices in coaching — the Flames(15-12-4) are trying to block it all out and concentrate on turning around their season.

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  Flames to practise at home for first time since controversy with head coach Flames to practise at home for first time since controversy with head coachThe controversy has been developing since Monday night, when former NHL player Akim Aliu tweeted that he had racism directed his way by a former coach in 2009-10 while with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.

No one in Calgary is about to start planning playoff parties on the Red Mile — even with a road win over Buffalo and home victories over Ottawa, Buffalo and Los Angeles.

The real test comes this week with road dates in Colorado and Arizona before returning home to face Toronto and Carolina.

"Every game for us is a big game," Ward said. "We've got to start getting some traction. We've got to start getting some points back, so we can start climbing the standings and put ourselves back in the playoff chase."

After officially taking over Nov. 29 from Peters, Ward sat down with all his players one-on-one.

a group of people racing each other on a snow covered slope: Calgary Flames' Zac Rinaldo, top, celebrates after scoring his first goal of the season in a win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.© Provided by cbc.ca Calgary Flames' Zac Rinaldo, top, celebrates after scoring his first goal of the season in a win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

He talked with them about their families. He chatted about their hobbies. He listened to their opinions about their own performance and that of a team that looked nothing like the group that finished first last season in the Western Conference.

Flames' win streak at 6 games with 5-2 win over Coyotes

  Flames' win streak at 6 games with 5-2 win over Coyotes GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sean Monahan scored for the fourth straight game, Cam Talbot stopped 46 shots and the Calgary Flames extended their winning streak to six straight games under interim coach Geoff Ward with a 5-2 win over the listless Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. Calgary played the night before, but had the early jump, scoring two goals on its first four shots in the opening 4:03. The Flames kept on scoring, improving to 7-0-1 their past games games following a six-game winless streak (0-5-1).Michael Frolik and Zac Rinaldo each had a goal and an assist. Johnny Gaudreau and Milan Lucic also scored for Calgary.

Ward, a former school teacher, also shuffled his lines in an attempt to capitalize on the depth the Flames possess. Down to the third line went superstar Johnny Gaudreau. Up to the first line came hard-working sophomore Andrew Mangiapane.

Gaudreau's recent struggles are a favourite topic of conversation in cubicle land and construction sites across southern Alberta. Gaudreau tied  Nathan MacKinnon for seventh overall in scoring last season with 99 points. This season, Gaudreau is ranked 69th with just 23 points in 31 games.

On Saturday, the Scotiabank Saddledome erupted when Gaudreau danced up the ice. The wee winger eluded four Los Angeles Kings before feeding Sean Monahan for his eighth goal of the season.

Maybe, just maybe, the man they call Johnny Hockey is back.

"He's got a little bit of that swagger back," Ward said. "He's done a great job of giving himself to the team. Because he's in that team frame of mind, he's had two really good games."

During this four-game winning streak, the most dangerous trio on the Flames has been Derek Ryan in the middle between Lucic and Dillon Dube, a recent call-up from the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.

"I just think it's four lines deep right now," Dube said. "It could be the group before us that wears them down and we jump on the ice, they're scrambling and we have momentum.

"It's just been really good energy by our team."

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