There are just 13 games left in Calgary’s regular season. Thirteen games left to cement their place in the postseason, but also to iron out any lingering issues or make last minute tweaks.
Curtis Lazar still hasn’t made it into the lineup. The third line still can’t drive play or score. The first PP unit is struggling. On the other hand, the Flames are winning despite these issues. Why rock the boat?
So what you do? Tinker down the stretch or leave well enough alone?
Fixing the third line
Although Calgary’s record over the last 10 games is perfect, there are still areas of concern on the roster. Sam Bennett’s line continues to be relatively ineffective, for instance. During Calgary’s winning streak Bennett, Troy Brouwer and Kris Versteeg have managed just three even strength goals and a below average corsi of 47.7%. Bennett has just two points in his last 12 games, Brouwer has four in his last 27 (a stretch going back to December), and Versteeg has managed just four points in his last 15.
If the third line could shut down other top lines or at least break even against other third units, the lacklustre offensive output wouldn’t be as big an issue, but they can’t. Most evenings they have some of the worst chance and shot numbers, despite being the most sheltered unit up front.
So what would you do? Shift Bennett to wing? Dress Lazar and play him on the right side? Bump up Alex Chiasson? Or status quo?
The first PP unit is really the second
Then there’s the first PP unit featuring Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Brouwer, Versteeg and T.J. Brodie. There’s no question the so-called second unit featuring the 3M line has been consistently more dangerous recently. Aside from Gaudreau’s spectacular individual effort against the Penguins Monday night, the first unit has been stagnant, relying on the same tactic of feeding the puck to Versteeg and jamming the front of the net.
Should the Flames coaching staff mix up the first unit? Move Johnny back to his off-wing? Try Micheal Ferland in front of the net? Swap in Dougie Hamilton for Brodie? Or should they leave well enough alone?
So what tweaks would you make Flames fans? Mix up the third line? Alter the first unit PP? Or do you opt to keep things the same given the winning streak?