December 07 2016 10:00AM
The Calgary Flames' recent renaissance has been authored in large part by the goaltending of (former?) career backup Chad Johnson. So far this year the 30-year-old has started 16 games, winning 11 of them while stopping 93.1% of the shots he's faced.
That elite level of goaltending has helped the Flames dig themselves out of a very deep hole.
It has also raised some fundamental questions about the Flames' netminding. First, is Johnson the de facto starter for the Flames moving forward over Brian Elliot? And secondly, should the Flames brass consider re-signing Johnson as quickly as possible (Jan. 1, 2017)?
December 05 2016 10:00AM
The holiday season is here and with it comes a faint glimmer of hope. The Flames have put together a respectable run recently, in no small part due to some heroic goaltending from Chad Johnson. That said, the skaters seem to be a bit less... chaotic in front him these days as well.
December has been something of a swing month for the Flames in the past. In 2007-08 under Mike Keenan, for instance, the Flames started the season poorly and were a handful of games under .500 heading into the final month of the calendar year. On top of that, they were scheduled for a killer Eastern road swing that promised to put them out of their misery.
But that didn't happen. In fact, the Flames won every game on the road trip, reeling off six victories in a row, including an astounding 9-6 victory over the Lightning in Tampa Bay. The outburst helped get them back in the playoff picture, where they stayed for the rest of the year.
The club experienced an even more dramatic turn around under Darryl Sutter in 2003-04, the year they went to the Cup final. Prior to December, it looked like it was going to be another disappointing season for the Flames franchise; they'd won nine of their first 20 games and seemed to be facing insurmountable odds as an underdog battling against big spenders in a pre-cap NHL.
Nevertheless, the D. Sutter Flames more than doubled their season's win totals that December, winning 10 of 13 en route to their Cinderella season.
So there's still a chance. Calgary likely can't recover from another bad or even mediocre month, but they can greatly improve their postseason probability with a few big win streaks.
With that in mind, we talk about the Flames' continued PP woes, the defense pairings and the expansion draft in the latest edition of the mailbag.
November 28 2016 10:00AM
As Calgary slowly inches back towards the .500 mark, the team and its players are being frequently mentioned in trade rumours around the league. Which is not unnatural - when a club underperforms expectations this severely to start a season, a couple of things become more likely:
1.) A coach gets fired.
2.) A significant trade is made.
Option one isn't really available to Treilving given he just hired this entire bench crew.
And as we've mentioned a few times around here, the Flames need to be careful when it comes to investigating the trade market right now. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.
The club's recent modest upswing might deter any rash decisions on the part of the front office. Despite their considerable struggles, Calgary is just a couple of points out of the wild card spot in the West (at the time of writing). If they can continue to string together a few good stretches to end the calendar year, they will at least look competitive heading into 2017.
In the mailbag today we look at the Flames' progression, the impending expansion draft, and Mark Jankowski's potential role with the big club.
November 23 2016 10:30AM
For a brief stint after Johnny Gaudreau was hurt, it looked like Sean Monahan was finding his game on a new line with Sam Bennett and Troy Brouwer.
Last week in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Monahan played over 19 minutes, scored two points and was one of the Flames' better skaters on the night. Maybe the 22-year-old had finally shaken the malaise that had infected his play since the start of the season?
Unfortunately the young centre followed that performance with a pair of simply putrid games on the road against the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. His line was the worst for the Flames on both evenings. In fact, it's arguable Monahan and Troy Brouwer were two of the main reasons the Flames lost the game in Buffalo.
November 21 2016 10:00AM
The club has dug themselves a pretty deep hole and it's going to be very difficult to dig themselves out again this year, especially with Johnny Gaudreau laid up with a broke finger. Things can't really get much more bleak, can they?
However, there are rays of sunshine starting to poke through the clouds. The Flames are have begun to push the play at even strength, the goaltending has stabilized, the PP doesn't look totally lost and some of the stars are actually looking like themselves again.
On top of all that, the Pacific is terrible this year. Usually it would require a 92-95 point pace to make the playoffs in the West, but thanks to their lousy division, the Flames may only have to stretch to about 85 points to make the dance.
"Things are always darkest before the dawn," as they say. Maybe there's enough time left to turn this ship around.
Today we talk about who the starter is, the Flames' luck so far and whether we can chart their apparent improvement or not.