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FLAMES REWIND - 06.11.17

Smith continues to give MVP-worthy performance ... You gotta see Valimaki's incredible goal!

by AARON VICKERS @aavickers / calgaryflames.com

The revolving door, it seems, has been slammed shut by Mike Smith.

After flipping through the likes of Karri Ramo, Reto Berra, Joni Ortio, Jonas Hiller, Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott since Miikka Kiprusoff's departure, Smith has been the exclamation mark following more than a few question marks.

"He's been our No.-1 guy here since the first game of the season," Flames forward Sean Monahan said following a 2-1 overtime gut-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. "He's kept us in a lot of games. We give a lot of credit to him. As a team we know we have to be better as a group and help him out more."

The 35-year-old, acquired last June from the Arizona Coyotes, hasn't just been the goalie to stop the swing.

He's been the Flames MVP through the opening eighth of the season.

No question.

"He's been our best player this year. It's not even close," said captain Mark Giordano, also on the heels of that OT victory, which saw Smith kick aside 43 of 44 shots - his 12th start in 13 games and the fourth time he's faced north of 40 pucks in a single contest.

"I think you really feel a difference out there night-in and night-out, the confidence our team is feeling now, defensively, especially.

"When your goalie gives you a performance like that it's pretty hard to lose. You really want to get that one for him. You feel miserable when they tied it there late and he didn't get the shutout, but just an impressive performance again.

"He's been great every game he's been in."

Smith owns a 8-5-0 record and sports a 2.32 goals against average and .931 save percentage since his change of address.

He's been among the busiest of goaltenders over that time.

"The start is everything,'' team goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet told Your Flames Authority George Johnson, "He had a couple pre-season games where he might not have been his best and some people were jumping on him early, thinking 'It's going to be the same in goal. We're going to get off to a bad start.'

"For him to come in, silence the critics and prove he's an elite goalie who can play at that level consistently - it's just a game-here or a game-there thing - is what we needed from him.

"It's given our team a chance to slowly get better in front of him."

SNAP SHOT

Smith was sure to mix in a little lavender to his gear Sunday night.

The occasion, of course, was a tilt against the visiting New Jersey Devils, which was also Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The cause hits particularly close to home for Smith, whose niece Elle was 18 months old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She'll be four in January, and has three treatments left.

"Seeing my wife's sister and brother-in-law go through a real tough time with their daughter, it's nice now where we're close to home where they live," Smith said. "They live in Canmore and we're able to spend some time with them. We were pretty far away before and they weren't able to travel. It's kind of a blessing in disguise we were traded here and we're able to spend some time with family we don't see very often. We're closer to Elle and are able to help out when we can."

Elle was beside Smith on the blueline as part of a special pre-game ceremony, in conjunction with the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, that recognized six children who are cancer survivors or continue to fight this terrible disease.

The Flames have supported the league-wide initiative with proceeds from both the Calgary Flames Foundation 50/50 raffle sales and Hockey Fights Cancer apparel sales in November going to Hockey Fights Cancer. Many Flames players, Smith included, are also participating in Movember.

ONE-TIMERS

Stick tap to prospect Andrew Mangiapane for being named the American Hockey League Player of the Month. Five goals and 10 assists for 15 points to go with a plus-10 rating … Mangiapane has tied Mark Jankowski 's Stockton club record with points in 10 straight games, too. Jankowski's probably hoping he doesn't get the chance to reclaim that throne … How about Juuso Valimaki's goal for Tri-City on Saturday? Unreal! Check it out below …The Flames Foundation has many on-going programs designed to help out our community. Do yourself a favour and surf on over to their page (calgaryflamesfoundation.com) to check out your team in your community … Also, how's that mo' growing going?

Video: Jaw-dropping goal from Flames' first-round draft pick

BACKHANDS

THURSDAY: The Flames won 2-1 agains the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins thanks, in part, to a 43-save performance from Smith and a nifty setup by Matthew Tkachuk to Giordano for the OT winner.

SUNDAY: Calgary won 5-4 on Tkachuk's deciding goal in the third round of the shootout. Monahan, Micheal Ferland , Michael Stone and Michael Frolik each added a goal and an assist in regulation. 

 

 

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