Flames Are Smoldering

Photo By Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Photo By Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames have been a Jekyll and Hyde club this season.

After losing the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, many thought that the Calgary Flames were in trouble, and with good reason. To help compensate for those losses, team general manager Brad Treliving went out and acquired the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar from the Florida Panthers in the Tkachuk deal and signed them both to multi-year deals. Then he signed unrestricted free agent Nazem Kadri to a seven-year, $49 million deal.

The team got off to a blazing start. They went 5-1 in their first six games and were firing on all cylinders.

Then the team started to struggle. The Flames had trouble putting the puck in the net, were not getting consistent goaltending, and looked like they were missing Gaudreau and Tkachuk.

Fast forward to now, and it looks like the Flames are trending again in the right direction. As of this writing (Saturday, January 14), the team is 21-14-9 for 51 points, which has them in the top wild-card spot.

For starters, the team is starting to find the net more regularly. They are 15th in the league in goals scored, with 138 goals in 44 games (3.14 goals per game).

Offensively, the Flames are being led by Elias Lindholm (40 points), Tyler Toffoli (37 points), Kadri (35 points), and Huberdeau (31 points). The point totals may not be high, but for the most part, they are doing what they should be doing this season.

The team is also getting better goaltending than they were at the beginning of the season. Right now, at least, it has been backup Dan Vladar that has been winning for the Flames.

Vladar, 25, is 8-4-0-4 with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Jacob Markstrom, who was outstanding last season, has not been as good this season as he is 13-10-0-5 with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage.

The team’s penalty kill has also been really good lately. They are eighth in the league, as the Flames have killed off 82.1 percent of the penalties they have taken this season.

The Flames are also doing a good job of not allowing many shots on goal. They are third in the league as they allow, on average, 27.8 shots per game.

There are things that this team needs to improve on if they want to keep winning and stay in a playoff spot. For starters, Markstrom, 32, needs to be better.

Markstrom was 37-15-0-9 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage, and had nine shutouts. If the Flames want any chance of getting into the playoffs and having success in them, Markstrom needs to get things turned around.

Secondly, Huberdeau, 29, needs to start producing more. Yes, he is fourth on the team in scoring, but for a player that the team signed to an eight-year, $84 million contract extension, the richest deal in franchise history, he is not doing enough right now.

Huberdeau was one of the best players in the league last season. He had 115 points on 30 goals and 85 assists. The Flames will be much better off if he can get back to producing at a high level.

Lastly, the Flames need to get their power play going. They are 24th in the league, as they have converted just 20 percent of the power plays they have been given this season.

What matters right now is that the Flames are playing better. They need to find a way to keep it up, so that come April, they will be a team to be reckoned with.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
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  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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