CaliSports News

Amidst a fire cloud, Anaheim could not extinguish the Flames

Mark the date. Oct. 9, 2017. History happened on Monday night. The Calgary Flames finally won in Anaheim.

The Flames had lost an NHL-record 25 straight regular-season games in Anaheim and had lost 29 overall consecutive times when including post-season action.

To put those numbers into perspective, the last time the Flames had won a regular season game in Orange County, the building was called the Pond, the team was named the Mighty Ducks, Anaheim’s captain was Steve Rucchin, and its head coach was Mike Babcock.

In fact, a preschooler in attendance that night would have already attended kindergarten through 12th grade, graduated high school, and now be attending college. College! They might even be married and already have their own preschooler whom they brought to Monday’s historic game! Yeah, it was that long ago.

That was Jan. 19, 2004, and ever since then, Anaheim had absolutely owned the Flames at home in a way that no other NHL team in history had owned an opponent. That is a historical fact.

But, for the Flames to snap the Ducks’ record streak required Anaheim to be without the services of many of its top players who were sidelined due to injuries. So, put an asterisk on that streak ending. Sorry Flames fans.

The final score was 2-0, before a crowd of 15,485 at Honda Center, as Calgary’s newly-acquired goalie Mike Smith recorded a shutout, stopping all 43 shots he faced. Dude was a wall.

For the Ducks, John Gibson also played well in the nets, saving 27-of-29 shots for a respectable .931 save percentage. It was a defensive battle all night, as the game was still scoreless until late in the second period when Sean Monahan finally scored for the Flames. Mikael Backlund added a second goal in the third period.

However, the big story was the players not on the ice as Anaheim was without its stars Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Nick Ritchie, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and Ryan Miller.

In addition, Ondřej Kaše who had started the night on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry exited the game with a head injury, and never returned after only playing three minutes and some change. Kaše will reportedly be re-evaluated on Tuesday morning.

The good news is that Monday marked this season’s debut for two Anaheim players. Getzlaf, who missed the Ducks’ first two games with an injury, as mention returned to the ice (as seen in the featured photo above), while rookie Jaycob Megna finally broke into the top six defensive unit.

Megna starting should have happened from opening night, as it makes far more sense to play Megna for numerous reasons:

1) Megna is much better than Korbinian Holzer who is terrible and should never be on the ice. So there’s that.
2) Third-pair defensive partner Kevin Bieksa shoots right-handed, so Bieksa should pair with a lefty such as Megna rather than with Holzer who also shoots righty. Duh!
3) Megna is a rookie so what the actual F was a rookie wasting away in street clothes during the first two games when he should be playing every night, whether in the NHL or AHL? And before someone chirps that Megna would never clear waivers, the answer is to play the 6’6″ stay-at-home defenseman every game in the NHL. Hello??

It is good that Head Coach Randy Carlyle finally gave Megna ice time, and the big D man responded with a decent performance. His score sheet says Megna played 15:42, almost three minutes of which were on the penalty kill, blocked two shots, delivered a hit, fired a shot on goal, and finished with a plus-minus of zero.

Whereas, 37-year-old Francois Beauchemin ended with a minus-1, and should join Holzer in the press box. Lindholm cannot return fast enough.

With the loss, the Ducks dropped to 1-1-1 for three out of a possible six standings points. That is still .500 ball, which is pretty amazing stuff considering Anaheim had played those three games with essentially three fourth lines. The Ducks are barely treading water, but as long as that banged up team can continue to do so until reinforcements arrive, it should be okay.

Just imagine how deadly the team will become once everyone returns to action, and Carlyle reported that Lindholm and Vatanen may return prior to their Nov. 1 target date.

In Vatanen’s case, that is especially a relief, because, after last season’s playoffs, General Manager Bob Murray announced that the 26-year-old defenseman could miss almost the entire regular season.

As for the estimated time of arrivals for the other injured players, the Ducks are being tight-lipped, so stay tuned to CaliSports News for the latest updates.

By the way, here is this article’s obligatory corny mention that Monday’s game was played in Honda Center surrounded by a massive fire cloud created by a brush fire in a nearby Anaheim Hills canyon. Yes, Anaheim hosted the Flames in more ways than one, and couldn’t seem to extinguish any of them. Rimshot, please.

The Ducks next host the New York Islanders on Wednesday night. Until then, let’s go Ducks !! LET’S GO DUCKS !!

(Featured photo courtesy of

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