WWYD Wednesday: Solve the Flames' goaltending problem

Kent Wilson
February 22 2017 12:00PM

Brad Treliving probably thought he'd solved the Flames' goaltending woes last summer. At least, he likely thought he was inching closer to a long-term solution. 

In the 2016 offseason, Treliving traded for Brian Elliott and signed Chad Johnson to a cheap, one-year deal. Together, Elliott and Johnson promised to improve Calgary's netminding by over 30 goals against if they could manage career average save rates at even strength. In addition, adding two veterans gave Jon Gillies another season to develop in the minors so he could potentially challenge for a spot in 2017-18. 

Unfortunately, nothing has worked out in Treliving's favour. Neither of the veterans he brought in have managed to quell the organization's goalie anxieties. Calgary still boasts some of the worst netminding at even strength this year and Gillies has struggled through a mediocre season in the AHL. 

Which means there are no easy answers moving forward. Johnson and Elliott are both pending free agents and Gillies hasn't made a convincing case that he's ready for prime time. So what do the Flames do? Should they re-sign one or both of the current incumbents and hope they rediscover their form? Or do the trade for one of the goalies who will no doubt hit the market in advance of the expansion draft?

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What's wrong with Johnny Gaudreau?

Kent Wilson
February 20 2017 12:00PM

It's been a rough season for the Flames' most dangerous player. 

With 11 goals and 35 points in 49 games, Gaudreau is on track to put up his worst goal per game (0.22) and points per game (0.71) pace since entering the league. He has just two goals in his last 22 contests and was recently demoted the fourth line for a few periods after a poor turnover that led to a goal against. On top of all that, he's an unsightly -18. 

A lot of theories have cropped up to explain Gaudreau's struggles. Eric Francis and Brian McGrattan suggested the team isn't tough enough to protect Gaudreau, leading to less scoring. Many fans have pointed to Glen Gulutzan as the culprit, with the notion that the new bench boss' systems are suppressing his stars' scoring. I've also seen the theory that the league has "adapted" to Gaudreau and he has to find new ways to generate points or that the player suffers from off-ice issues.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at Gaudreau's numbers to see what they could reveal. Have his coach or teammates somehow failed him, leading to fewer chances and shots? Has the league figured out how to keep Gaudreau away from the dangerous areas? Is he partying too much?

Spoiler alert: Probably not.   

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FN Mailbag - February 20, 2017

Kent Wilson
February 20 2017 08:00AM

The 2017 edition of the Calgary Flames is a study in frustration. 

Some games they are terrible and rightfully lose. Other games they are dominant... but still lose, either because their scorers can't score or because their goalies can't stop the puck. Or because the club takes too many penalties. 

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that none of these problems were supposed to be problems. Last season, Calgary was the least penalized team in the league. This year, they're the most. Every single high priced player that Brad Treliving has re-signed in the last 12 months is having a down year, hobbling the Flames offense. And the goaltending that should have been vastly improved, isn't. It's a minor miracle Calgary is within throwing distance of a playoff spot despite all of these issues. 

We're nine days away from the trade deadline and Treliving must be scratching his head. Almost of his assumptions heading into the season have likely been undermined. Many of his core players haven't been primary contributors, his goaltending remains shaky, his blueline is still top heavy, his big UFA signing isn't working out and his farm team has just finished losing 10 in a row. 

Nevertheless, the playoffs are still possible. So what's next?

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WWYD Wednesday: Should the Flames be buyers or sellers?

Kent Wilson
February 15 2017 10:00AM

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The 2017 trade deadline is less than two weeks away. The Calgary Flames are currently one point out of a wildcard spot in the West, with their nearest opponent (the Kings) owning two games in hand. SportsClub Stats puts Calgary's chances of making the postseason at just over 30%.

So the playoffs are within reach, but the club is in a precarious position. Any sort of extended losing streak over the remainder of the season will surely sink their chances of making the dance. 

So what should Brad Treliving do? Are the Flames buyers or sellers?

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FN Mailbag: February 13, 2017

Kent Wilson
February 13 2017 08:00AM

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We're nearing the final quarter of the season and the Flames are still playing meaningful hockey. That might seem like a marginal accomplishment, but it's worth celebrating given the club's start to the season. 

Whether they keep playing meaningful games in April will depend very heavily on how they perform through the rest of February and what Brad Treliving accomplishes at the trade deadline. For Calgary to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, they will have to fend off at least one of the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings or Nashville Predators down the stretch. To have a better chance at that, they'll need to firm up one of their real areas of need. 

Complicating this whole dance, of course, is the upcoming expansion draft. Not only will it influence the Flames' choices when it comes to trades, but it will skew the marketplace around the deadline as well.

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