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3 Things From Week 18: Mike Smith Is Human, Lineup Changes, Why? & Matt Stajan The Sniper

Smitty had a rough go against Tampa, Janko and Kulak get to see a press box and Matt Stajan lighting the lamp……twice!



The Flames had rough week this time around as they played 3 games and lost 2 of them. The good news for fans and the Flames is that the losing streak didn’t reach 7 games as Calgary defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in OT Saturday night to end the bleeding. Between some odd lineups and scratches to Mike Smith looking human it was one of the more odd weeks of the season for sure.

The Flames play as of late has dropped them down in the playoff standings. Thursday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-4) hurt the most because all of the Flames competition for playoff spots won while they were busy getting crushed. Calgary went from 2nd in the Pacific to 5th with one loss. The Flames are currently 4th in the Pacific, 10th in the West, BUT they are only 1 point behind the Minnesota Wild in the Wild Card race. So there’s hope and a looming road trip should actually do them some good seeing they play better on the road than at home.

Here’s this week’s 3 Things!

Mike Smith Is Human After-all: Smith had his first real stinker of the season against Tampa.

We all knew it was bound to happen: Mike Smith would show that he’s not super human and it happened this week. Smith was uncharacteristically off in the Flames 7-4 loss to Tampa on Thursday night. The Flames MVP gave up 6 goals on 27 shots before being relieved by David Rittich. Calgary finally gave their netminder some offence and a 4-2 lead, but late in the second and into the third, the wheels fell off. Smith gave up 4 straight goals and all of them were soft. These were shots Smith has easily stopped all season long.

Smith broke destroyed his stick on the post before heading to the bench, clearly frustrated with himself and his play. He came back and looked solid against the Blackhawks Saturday night, but there were times he looked unsure of himself or like he was fighting the puck a bit. The Flames needed Smith to get the win against Chicago to stop the bleeding and to get Smith back on track. Hopefully the latter half was accomplished and things can get back to normal, but it may be time to give Smith a day off every few games to keep himself and David Rittich sharp as Calgary tries to reclaim a playoff spot.

The Lineup Shuffle Wasn’t Successful: Despite the result, it wasn’t due to changes.

Glen Gulutzan made some interesting changes to the Flames lineup on Saturday night and they were met with, let’s say, a luke warm response. Mark Jankowski got the night off to watch from the press box due to his play as of late. Honestly, not sure what Janko has done wrong, but I’m not the coach. Calgary also gave Brett Kulak the night off as well. Another questionable decision that didn’t seem to make much sense. Does Kulak light the world on fire? No. But he’s a steady hand and is mile better than his D partner in Michael Stone.

Their replacements in the lineup were Andrew Mangiapane and the seldom used Matt Bartkowski. Neither really brought anything to the lineup and Mangiapane saw his ice time disappear late in the second and into the third…..during crunch time. While Mangiapane hasn’t done anything egregious, it might be time for a trip to Stockton to actually play. As for Bartkowski, he passed the puck directly to Vinnie Hinostroza who almost scored his second of the night AND that might have been the end for the Flames. Count me in as being fine if Bartkowski didn’t see the NHL ice again this season.

Gulutzan gambled and got lucky because one of his changes didn’t play much and the other almost screwed it up for the Flames. They won with their regulars in the lineup, not Gulutzan’s “bold” lineup changes.

Hello Matt Stajan: Out of nowhere, Stajan had 2 goals.

Matt Stajan, welcome to 2017-18! The Flames veteran centre has been a mix of 4th line ghost and a healthy scratch this season. Stajan’s game has been slipping for a few seasons now and this year has been tough on the Flames good guy. Coming into this week Stajan had 2 points: 1 goal, 1 assist. When the week came to an end he had a robust 4 points!

Stajan grabbed 2 goals this week and no one looked more surprised than Matt Stajan when he scored both goals. His first goal of the season came back on January 11th and he went 7 games without a goal prior to scoring against Tampa and Chicago. Will this open the flood gates for Stajan? Probably not. He’s buried on the 4th line and some nights scratched so the opportunities aren’t there. However, it was nice to see the Flames vet put a few in as his career with the Flames is most certainly winding down.

by Mark Parkinson