Things Are Not Good in Calgary

The Calgary Flames underwent a few changes after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs last season.

For starters, the franchise and former general manager Brad Treliving, who is now in the same position with the Toronto Maple Leafs, agreed to part ways. Craig Conry took Treliving’s place.

The team also fired former head coach Darryl Sutter. After being one of the league’s top teams in the 2021-22 season, they struggled to find consistency last season, so they fired Sutter and hired from within by promoting Ryan Huska as the team’s new bench boss.

Unfortunately for the Flames and their fans, it appears that through the team’s first eight games, not much has changed; the Flames are sixth in the Pacific Division with a 2-5-1 record.

There are several reasons why the Flames have struggled out of the gate. For starters, this team is struggling to score goals.

The Flames are currently 24th in the league in goals scored, as they have scored just 17 goals in eight games. This means that they are barely averaging two goals a game despite having some solid offensive talent on their roster with players such as Elias Lindholm (two goals and four assists for six points), Jonathan Huberdeau (two goals and two assists for four points), and Andrew Mangiapane (three goals and three assists for six points).

Scoring goals was a problem for the Flames last season, as well as they were 19th in the league in that category last season. Players like Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri (one assist for one point) have yet to play up to their contracts, and if they cannot step up their games in a hurry, things could end up getting ugly in Calgary.

The team is also struggling to keep the puck out of their own net. As of this writing, the Flames are 27th in the league in goals allowed, as they have given up 28 goals in eight games.

Flames starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, while showing some flashes of brilliance with great saves here and there, still does not look like the goaltender he was during the 2021-22 season. That year, Markstrom, 33, was a Vezina Trophy finalist as one of the league’s top goaltenders when he was 37-15-0-9 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage, and nine shutouts.

This season, Markstrom is 1-4-0-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage. While the team has not played well in front of him, there is no doubt that Markstrom needs to be a heckuva lot better if they want to get back into the postseason come April.

Lastly, it appears that there is some discontent in the locker room. Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov recently spewed some negativity regarding the team and his teammates when he said the following to reporters back on Tuesday morning before their team’s game against the New York Rangers:

“The main thing is we’re just not working as a unit,” he told reporters. “We have too many individuals playing as themselves. We have to figure out if we want to play as a team or play as our own guy.

“We’re only six games into the season and we’re trying to figure out who wants to be here, who wants to play for whom.”

Zadarov did not stop there as he went on to say that with Sutter gone, there can be no more excuses.

“Last season was different. It was Darryl. Now, there’s no Darryl, so there’s no excuses,” Zadorov said. “You know what I mean? You guys don’t like hard coaches? You don’t like soft coaches? You don’t like good coaches? Fair.

“It’s a new-day league. You come up here, you play hard, and you leave everything on the ice. I think that’s how simple it is.”

While some of the things Zadorov said might be true, it certainly was in poor taste. The team is trying to get it together, and when you have one of your own saying these things, it can have a negative impact.

The good news for the Flames is that the season is still young, and there is a lot of time to right the ship. With that said, if they do not fix things in a hurry, it will be another season without the playoffs in Calgary.

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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