January 16 2017 02:00PM
The Calgary Flames started this season with a god awful excuse for a penalty kill. There is no other way to phrase it. Initially after a single game we saw some brief glimpses of systemic changes that new assistant coach Paul Jerrard was hoping to implement throughout the season. After that, like the Flames' ability to not take penalties, it fell off the rails and eventually hit league bottom.
Then something magical happened - primarily over the winning streak - and everything slowly progressed back to league average in flat PK%. Their penalty kill has become quite effective at suppressing the opposition. Still, there is a long way to go.
January 16 2017 12:00PM
For many people that follow the Calgary Flames, July 1, 2017 has long been circled on the calendar. In addition to being Jarome Iginla's 40th birthday, it's also the date that several hefty contracts signed by the Flames expire. That means that as of the end of this playing season, players like Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland have their deals expire and hit the unrestricted free agent market.
That's the good news. The bad news is the Flames have to replace them, and try to do so without breaking the bank. We've taken a look at a few ways they might be able to do just that.
January 16 2017 10:00AM
It has been one week since the Calgary Flames recalled Brett Kulak.
A part of that move probably had to do with demoting Tyler Wotherspoon, who was a day away from requiring waivers to be sent back down. And for all we know, that was the only reason - because it's been three games Kulak could have played in (not counting the Jets game on the day of his recall), and yet, three straight healthy scratches for him.
Before he was sent down back in December, he had been a healthy scratch five straight games. And so it continues.
But really, the Flames should probably be playing him.
January 16 2017 08:00AM
The Flames had a glorious December, but it has been a January of inconsistency and frustration so far. Glen Gulutzan's crew has careened from dreadful to excellent on a game-to-game basis since the calendar flipped, a tendency that has them plodding along at .500 in 2017 (if you count the recently SO loss to Edmonton as a tie, that is).
Another big part of the problem is the club's even strength offense has completely dried up. Since Jan. 1, the Flames have scored just nine times in seven games at 5on5 and are shooting at just 5%. They are also drawing fewer than three penalties per game this month, so it makes it very difficult for the powerplay to make up the difference.
The good news is this probably can't last much longer. Once the dry spell breaks, pucks will start going in for guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett again. When that happens the Flames just have to figure out how to get up for the opening whistle every night.
In the mailbag today we deep look at the Flames' centre depth and the future of the Flames' goaltending.
January 15 2017 08:00AM
It isn't this loss that stings - it's the other ones.
The Flames played well enough to win. They were the better team overall, even when they were the ones not rested. They responded from the pathetic failure that had been their game against the Devils, just as they responded against the Sharks after the Jets disaster.
And they got a point out of it. Which, fine, whatever; that's all well and good. Though they're ninth in the West in points percentage, which is just out of a playoff spot, and as things stand they may be the most likely ones in the conference to just miss the dance.
Which is why you show up for every game. And why those two losses earlier in the week sting more. Because if the Flames had played this well against them, they probably would have won.