Is there a changing of the guard in the Pacific Division?
It’s the middle of December and the Calgary Flames, now with six straight wins, lead the same division dominated last season by the California powers in Anaheim, San Jose and L.A. The Edmonton Oilers have been inconsistent at times this season but they are right there, too, one point back. Same goes for the Ducks. The Sharks and Kings are definitely in contention.
There is plenty of hockey remaining in the season. Plenty of chances for change in the NHL’s division standings, including in the Pacific. But there’s no denying the Flames are on an impressive run.
Late last month, they had a particularly frustrating loss to Philadelphia and coach Glen Gulutzan voiced his displeasure about it. They followed that up the next day with an overtime loss to the Islanders. Prior to that weekend, there had been rumblings about the future of Gulutzan with the club, despite being only a few months into his tenure.
But since then, the Flames have yet to lose. They continued their winning streak with a convincing 6-2 victory over the visiting Jets on Saturday.
Dougie Hamilton — remember all that trade speculation surrounding the Flames defenseman and Brian Burke’s classic response? — had two goals for Calgary. Chad Johnson was solid in net again. It was a pretty dominant performance all around.
There are more difficult tests ahead for Calgary.
The Flames face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday and then the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
In previous seasons, a Friday night game between the Flames and Blue Jackets in the middle of December might not garner much interest. But they are both among the hottest teams in the league right now and it’s likely not many would’ve predicted that a short time ago.