Flames Kick Off 2022 with a Strong Showing in The Windy City

Happy New Year, hockey fans. It is with a great joy that I bring you all up to speed on the fact that I have found a new home as a hockey fan and therefore here on TMS. The Calgary Flames have stolen my heart with good times, inappropriately cheap arena beers and some pretty nasty uniforms, alongside obviously a beauty of a squad.

I will say, I adopted the Flames very shortly after giving up on the Hawks, but despite the fact that beers are $5 at the Saddledome and the vibes are spectacular, the Flames were not the spiciest they’ve ever been with me in the building, so I figured I’d give them some time before I started talking about them on the internet. Those $5 Dome Foams though…

On Sunday afternoon, the Flames kicked off their year in the middle of a weird time to be a Canadian franchise. With arena capacities seemingly changing on a daily basis and differing province to province, it’s been tough to remember if or when the Flames are supposed to be playing at the Saddledome. But amid an extended road trip through the US where playing hockey in public is allowed, Calgary found themselves in Chicago facing off against the middling Blackhawks, who I have not paid a moment of attention to since the last time we spoke.

Sunday afternoons matchup in Chicago saw Markstrom taking his place in the blue paint whole Fleury got the night off. After some relatively mundane back-and-forth for the first half of the period, the Blackhawks struck first, with Debrincat getting into the low slot taking a very nice feed from Kane and finding twine. That is precisely the moment where the Blackhawks luck would run out for the day.

As my guy Brownie pointed out in his New Years Resolution blog earlier this week, the Flames have a delightful little core that you’re gonna want to keep together somehow (You’re not getting them in Boston though, relax). A crucial part of that core is having Johnny Hockey and Matthew Tkachuk wearing the same uniform, and together they made absolutely no mistake with a good solid pass and redirect to even up the score a few minutes after giving up the early lead.

In addition to being a very gifted hockey player, Tkachuk is also a world class pain in the ass. Every team needs a nuissance. It’s why everyone in Boston would die for Brad Marchand. You only hate them if you don’t have them. Midway through the second frame, Tkachuk parked directly in front of the Chicago netminder, causing enough of a ruckus for Lindholm to snap one to the back of the cage to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

Late in the 2nd after a series of solid powerplay performances, the Flames saw themselves shorthanded and it looked anything but inconvenient to them. Early in the Blackhawks powerplay, Backlund saw himself sprung for a breakaway but was turned aside by Soderblom who was given a cool 20 seconds to compose himself before the Flames man-down forecheck found Coleman feeding a wide open Trevor Lewis in front who tucked away the Flames third shorthanded goal on the season.

The Flames would pot an empty-netter from the other end of the stratosphere, followed by a 5th tally on an absolute snipe from Johnny Gaudreau to lock up a 5-1 victory for the Flames, who travel to Florida to take on the Panthers while Canada figures out the next time they’re going to be allowed to play at home again for a nice long homestand to close out January.

Here is Johnny Hockey’s laserbeam goal for no other reason than I want to mention it again. Happy 2022, friends.

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