The biggest question mark for the Calgary Flames heading into the season was Mike Smith.

One month in, he’s proven to be their most valuable player, prompting Sean Monahan to chuckle at the mere notion Smith was a wild card.

“I know how good he was in Phoenix – he made a lot of big saves on me,” said Monahan, breaking into a broad grin. “He’s such a gamer. I actually remember one game I put the puck in after the whistle and he took a snapshot at me and almost hit me in the back of the head. We were just joking about that when he signed. He’s a great goalie and he’s kept us in a lot of games – night in and night out we’ve got to give him credit. He’s been our number one guy all year.”

Coming off another heroic 43-save effort that saw his Flames somehow snag a 2-1 overtime victory over Pittsburgh Thursday, Smith’s dressing room smile turned into a hearty laugh when asked about his attempted sniping of his new teammate.

“I almost hit him,” recalled Smith, known league-wide for being the best stick-handler of all netminders.

“As soon as I let go of the puck I felt terrible. I was worried it was either going to hit him or go over the glass and hit a fan in the stands. I’ve regretted it ever since. But we’ve talked it over and we’re buddies now.”

Smith is everyone’s best friend in Calgary these days as he has almost single-handedly prevented the Flames from starting with the same type of 5-10-1 start they had last year. With back-to-back 2-1 wins over visiting Washington and Pittsburgh this week, the team is starting to show signs of getting the swagger back that helped the Flames win a franchise-record 11 in a row last year to save the season.