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STAR STUDDED

Monahan honoured to be named NHL's First Star of the Week

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

No ribbons or wrapping or tug-at-the-heart Hallmark-style cards. No candles to blow out. No postage required. No store product-return desks to brave.

Just the gift of old-fashioned parental pride.

Unbeatable.

Ask Cathy Monahan.

"I'll take it,'' acknowledged apple-of-her-eye son Sean of his Monday selection as the NHL's First Star of the Week. "But it happened to be my mom's birthday yesterday, too.

"So it was nice for her.

"She's a special woman to me and obviously I try to make her birthdays as special as possible.

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NEVER COUNT THEM OUT

The Flames have proven they are more than capable of rallying to complete a comeback

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

The name of the fan-friendly event, Red Rally, turned out to be particularly apropos for this instalment.

'Cause that's what this bunch in red seems to delight in:

Rallying.

Two down. Three in arrears. One behind with a less than 60 seconds left to tick away.

Craters. Canyons. Gopher holes.

No matter.

They can clamber out of 'em.

These Flames right now are harder to kill than a salacious rumour.

"The bad news is that we seem to be chasing a lot lately, even in games where we're playing really well,'' mused defenceman Travis Hamonic, looking for a Sharpie to head out for the autograph portion of Sunday's fan experience. "The good news is, we've been catching up."

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FLAMES EXTRA - GEOFF'S JOURNEY

The chance to move to Calgary after three years with the New Jersey Devils was too enticing for former Cup-winner Geoff Ward to pass up

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

The morning of June 15, 2011, and puck drop to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final at Rogers Arena in Vancouver was still hours away.

Geoff Ward felt restless.

So he decided to take pen to paper.

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COMEBACK KIDS

Giordano: 'Those are the fun moments, getting on a roll like that.'

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

There was, following their second goal, almost a savage inevitability to it all.

They continued to pour forward, like tsunami waves battering a brick fortification; French peasants storming the Bastille on July 24, 1789 in Paris; a rampaging colony of African red army ants descending on an outlying village.

For so long, as the red-clad tempest pounded relentlessly away, all that had stood between the Colorado Avalanche and imminent destruction was goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

And when he finally, almost inevitably, cracked …

Well.

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CROSSING PATHS

Valimaki excited to go up against fellow countryman, NHL's leading scorer Mikko Rantanen

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Sometimes, a week is all a fella needs.

"You could tell, even then, what he could become,'' recalls Juuso Valimaki, of countryman Mikko Rantanen.

"I mean, he obviously had all the physical tools. And for the week I was with him at camp, he worked really, really hard.

"We kinda missed each other. I got cut from the 2016 (World Junior) team and by 2017 he was too old. But, like I said, we were together for that week at camp.

"With some guys at an early age, you can just tell. And he was one of those guys.

"He's earned all the success he's had.

"When you get to that stage, the guys who work the hardest are usually the ones who enjoy success."

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RASMUS RISING

Andersson proving his mettle as key member of Flames blueline

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

There's a first time for everything.

First set of skates. First set of wheels. First steady gal.

One-of-a-kind, never-to-be-forgotten, touchstone moments.

"Naw, I knew right away I didn't get the goal," conceded Rasmus Andersson of his first-ever NHL point, "I saw Chucky tip it.

"I'm just glad it went in and we got the game at least to OT."

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FLAMES EXTRA - DANKE STAJ

Longtime Flame Matt Stajan and wife, Katie, are enjoying their new life and its many adventures in Munich, Germany

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

"As hard as it might seem at times, this is a period in our life we'll look back on and value."

Longtime Flame Matt Stajan and wife, Katie, enjoy new life and its many adventures in Munich, Germany.

Donning the official Eishockeyclub Red Bull München uniform - predominantly blue, the signature energy drink logo predominant on the jersey front - he looked right at home rather quickly.

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A FIGHTER'S FIGHT

Smith has excellent outing vs. Caps, stops 24 in shootout loss

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Any fighter of any quality in any weight class understands the importance of getting off the canvas after being knocked down and finding himself staring up from his back at the glare of the ring lights.

And Mike Smith is nothing if not a renowned scrapper.

"Any time you get embarrassed like we did the other night," reasoned the combative Flames' goaltender, "it shows a lot about the character of this group when you come out and play against the best team in the league and you're right there, one bounce away from beating them.

"Especially what happened after the last game, I think I talked about there being two ways to go: Feel sorry for yourselves or come out today and put out a good effort.

"I thought we did that."

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'WAKE-UP CALL'

Smith will be back between the pipes when Flames look to rebound against Caps in Saturday matinee

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Let's just say Mike Smith wasn't eagerly surfing the sports channels at home as the Thursday midnight witching hour approached.

"Highlights?" said the feisty Flames goaltender. "What highlights were there from last night?

"I usually watch every goal. That was one game where I didn't look at anything.

"I don't think anyone can be very proud of what happened.

"An embarrassment as far as I'm concerned. And I think everyone realizes that.

"But it's over. When stuff doesn't go your way, you've gotta work and work and work, have a good attitude and try to be better."

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'WE HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT'

Flames look to regroup and get ready for Capitals after loss to Pens

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

It was a tough game to sum up.

"They scored a few,'' said Mark Giordano, "and we started taking some risks that obviously you can't take against a team like that, that knows how to put the puck in the net.

"Then it snowballed.

"It's a tough feeling. I don't think many of us have been through that, especially in our own building.

"We've got to really regroup in here. I feel like our past few games haven't been good at all. 

"Tonight it's time to sit down with each other and figure this out."

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