Could Kadri’s Big Game Be Sign Of Hot December For Flames?
The Calgary Flames are looking to string some wins together and Nazem Kadri’s three-point night is a good sign they can do it.
Nazem Kadri was, by all informal hockey definitions, having a bit of a nap. The Calgary Flames’ reigning Stanley Cup champion can be forgiven for feeling a bit sleepy after a short summer and a fiery start.
He started his Flames journey with a six-game point streak, scoring four goals and nine points in his first half-dozen games. Through his first 14 contests, he racked up eight goals and 15 points.
But with just one assist in the eight games since, Kadri entered Monday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes without much momentum.
Head coach Darryl Sutter had suggested a few times that he needed the wingers on Kadri’s line to step things up during the dip.
The reunion of the DNA line seemed to accomplish that with Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube both heating up. They were connecting at even strength, producing major opportunities while shorthanded, and generally keeping that group effective.
Mangiapane put up three goals and four points in the previous four outings. Dube had three goals and six points in the previous seven.
You knew Kadri would explode at some point.
It happened against the Coyotes, in a game that required a difference maker despite its heavy lean toward the Flames in a paper matchup.
On the ice, Kadri factored into every single goal the Flames scored in the 3-2 victory. He assisted on the first two then scored the winner on a third-period powerplay. His euphoric extended roar in celebration captured the moment perfectly.
Resolve. Reward. Relief.
“I’ve had a lot of good opportunities the last handful of games, so it’s nice to finally see it hit the back of the net,” Kadri said post-game. “There was a little bit of frustration starting to seep in.
“It was a matter of time before it came.”
You love to see it as a Calgary Flames fan. Kadri at his best is a major component of what the team needs to make the playoffs. And make some noise once they get there.
It bodes well for a team looking to string a few wins together.
They’ve won back-to-back contests now. They haven’t won three in a row since … winning three straight to start the season.
It won’t be easy with the Minnesota Wild in town Wednesday to close out the five-game homestand at the Saddledome.
With a couple of lines rolling nicely, they may be in the best spot possible to string wins together right now. The trio of Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Adam Ruzicka has been humming. The top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli is still seeking more of a spark, but those players are all big reasons the powerplay went two-for-two on Monday night.
Lindholm scored one and Kadri’s winner was set up by the other two.
Defensively, the pairings are all performing well.
In goal, Dan Vladar has been capably carrying the load while the Flames give Jacob Markstrom a chance to work out some kinks.
With three games in four nights on the road, they’ll need both goaltenders sharp – however they are deployed.
If the upward offensive trend continues with Kadri feeling good again, this could be a month remembered as the one that turned the Flames season around.