The tortured look on Matt Stajan's face has disappeared in recent times, only to be replaced by a visage of sheer jubilation.

Matt Stajan punching the air after scoring his 100th career NHL goal. Matt Stajan yelling at his opponents and mucking things up along the boards. Matt Stajan leading by example and urging his teammates to not let up in the seemingly never-ending fight to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Whether this is a temporary blip — or a permanent change — remains to be seen. But No. 18 deserves at least some of the credit for keeping the Calgary Flames in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race — in spite of a devastating rash of injuries.

"He's been playing unbelievable for us," marvelled left-winger Curtis Glencross. "Maybe it's a little bit of a second chance and a quick start for him here. He's doing his job and playing absolutely awesome for us."

Promoted to the first line in the absence of Michael Cammalleri, Stajan looks right at home between Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla. He chips in offensively. Backchecks responsibly. Grinds it out on the wall.

In short, he looks like the player Flames fans thought they had back in 2010 when former general manager Darryl Sutter signed the Toronto product to a four-year contract worth $14 million US.

Critics have widely panned the deal as one of the worst in franchise history.