Too Little for 2014, but Flames could break out in '15
The franchise has not made the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2008-09 seasons and since that year, have gone through a number of different coaches and even general managers. Since then, the team has also lost franchise icons in Miikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla, two players that not only led the Flames to within one win of the Cup in 2004, but who also helped make the Flames a tough team to play against for many seasons.
Fast forward to now and while this team will not make the playoffs, things seem to be on the upswing. There are several reasons why things are headed in the right direction and why this team could be a lot beginning next season.
For starters, the Flames have shown no quit in them. Despite knowing that they will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight seasons, the Flames have not given up and have actually played very well down the stretch.
In their last 10 games, the Flames are 6-4 and have beaten several good hockey clubs in the last month or so. In fact, the Flames have recently beaten the likes of the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, and the New York Rangers, most teams that are/could be playoff bound in a few weeks.
Secondly, this Flames' hockey club has shown that they have a lot of talent. Youngsters like Mikael Backlund (18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points), Sean Monahan (20 goals and 12 assists for 30 points), Joe Colborne (10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points) have shown a lot of potential this season and should all get better in the coming years as they gain more experience in this league.
Speaking of potential, the Flames also have a lot of good prospects in their system. One Flames' prospect in particular that could take the NHL by storm one day is Johnny Gaudreau.
Gaudreau had an unbelievable season with the Boston College Eagles this season and is a leading candidate to win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player. In 39 games this season, Gaudreau led the Eagles with 35 goals and 42 assists for 77 points and is currently helping his club in their quest to capture their sixth national championship.
The team has also shown that they have a good netminder in Karri Ramo. While Ramo has played in just 34 games this season, the 27-year-old Finnish goaltender has shown that he can provide quality goaltending to this Flames' hockey team.
As of this writing, Ramo is 14-12-4 with a 2.65 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and one shutout. These numbers may not be top notch when it comes to a starting goaltender in the NHL but considering the team he plays for, the numbers are pretty solid.
Lastly, the Flames have shown that they are well coached under Bob Hartley. Hartley gets his team to play hard every night, has them playing smarter hockey than in years past, and more importantly, is a team that works hard together to improve on a nightly basis.
While the team may still be a few steps away from getting back to being a playoff hockey club, the Flames are certainly headed in the right direction and have a bright future ahead of them.