CALGARY, AB -- On Tuesday night, Michael Ferland put forth such a strong effort in the Calgary Flames' 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes that head coach Bob Hartley dubbed it his best game during his time in the NHL.
Against Arizona, the 22-year old set up David Jones' second period goal, fired one shot on net, was credited with four hits, had four takeaways to his name, and logged 12:21 of ice time.
Hartley has changed his tune after Ferland's performance against the Los Angeles Kings.
"I was wrong," Hartley chuckled. "Last night, he was crushing people. He was driving to the net. Defensively, he was very strong.
"Last night, he played most of the game against Drew Doughty and we were able to contain Drew Doughty. Ferly was on his side basically all night. He did an unbelievable job."
All in all, Ferland put in 15:28 of ice time, was tied for the game-high in hits with six, had four takeaways, blocked one shot, and had three shots on net in Thursday's 3-1 playoff-clinching victory over the Kings.
"I think that's the best I've felt since I've been up. It's probably the best I've felt all year," he said. "The legs felt good. It was nice playing with Stajan and Jonesy. They talk to me a lot and I felt really comfortable out there.
"It was nice to get the bump up from Bob and I just wanted to keep my game simple. Finish all my checks, be responsible in the d-zone, and most importantly, have fun."
The coaching staff's growing trust in Ferland has been evident in recent games, given the situations he's been placed in and lining him up against the likes of Drew Doughty, one of the top defencemen in the NHL.
The increased responsibilities aren't lost on Ferland and have bolstered his self-confidence.
"Every day that goes on, I keep getting better and better. I do feel way more confident."
Given what Ferland has brought to the table during his time with the Flames this season and what he has done over the course of his pro career, Hartley sees a bright future for him in the organization.
"Here's a young man that, quickly, is really growing around us. That's the player that we saw kind of three years ago. We just had to give time to mold [him.]
"He's still a kid so he's going to get some good games, tough games but we have lots of faith in him. He's a great young kid."
Ferland's next task will be trying to help the Flames end the regular season with a big win over the Winnipeg Jets which could potentially lead the team earning home ice advantage in the playoffs.
The MTS Centre will be at full capacity for their team's final regular season game of the year but there will be vocal contingent of Flames fans there to cheer on Ferland specifically.
"I'm from two hours from Winnipeg and I'm going to have a lot of family and friends coming to the game. It's going to be nice to play in front of them," he smiled. "It's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it."