It seems as though everything has gone off the rails for the Flames.
Coming off of a respectable 3-2-1 road trip, the Flames returned to Calgary for a four-game homestand. During it, they won once and got embarrassed three times – and that’s putting it nicely.
Their past two games, the Flames have completely folded, allowing goals to go against them in bursts (they’ve given up 12) and seemingly burying them in complete despair. If there’s any fight left in them, it’s come too late, and four points have completely slipped through their fingers.
The bad news: those four points would see them at 33 on the season, which would have them third in the Pacific.
The good news: that they’re sitting at just 29 is by no means a death sentence for this season. You’d like them to be in a cushier position, but the Flames are still very much in the playoff hunt. Teams will go through losing streaks, and that will, in all likelihood, apply to the Pacific teams currently above Calgary; by absolutely no means are they out of it.
So here’s the question. Things are, obviously, not ideal at the moment. There will always be something that needs fixing. So pick one area – your biggest area of concern – pretend that you have full control of the franchise, and make your one move.
The Flames are struggling right now, not playing to their full potential. Do you move Glen Gulutzan? If so, who do you replace him with? Do the other coaches follow?
Or are there deeper problems with the roster? Do the Flames need another top line forward, right now? There have been rumours Wayne Simmonds is available. Do you trade for him? The Buffalo Sabres are in something of a shambles right now. Do you try to pilfer from them? Kyle Okposo? Sam Reinhart? Anyone not named Jack Eichel? Or hey, the Montreal Canadiens always seem to be doing weird stuff with Alex Galchenyuk, how about him? (Keep these realistic; i.e. no, nobody is going to take on Troy Brouwer’s contract so the Flames can upgrade themselves at the forward position.)
But wait, wasn’t this supposed to be the best defence in the NHL? What happened to that? The Flames gave up a fair bit for Travis Hamonic. T.J. Brodie has had amazing seasons for Calgary in the past, but he looks like a shell of his former self right now. Do you cut bait with either of those players? If so, for who? Just what would it take to pick up, say, Oliver Ekman-Larsson? (Again: not Brouwer.) Keep in mind that Brodie has modified no movement and no trade clauses. Michael Stone has a modified no trade clause, too, for that matter.
Mike Smith may be getting too heavy a workload. Is more starts for David Rittich the answer? Is he even ready for that, or should it be Eddie Lack back up? Is it Jon Gillies’ time? Is there another goalie out there to go after?
Or does the answer lie internally? Should Andrew Mangiapane be recalled? Is it about time Morgan Klimchuk makes his NHL debut? Rasmus Andersson, come on up? Oliver Kylington?
On the smaller scale, is it just a roster change that would fix things? Who should take Kris Versteeg’s place on the top powerplay unit, full time? Would it make sense to reunite Brodie with Mark Giordano and let Dougie Hamilton be in control of his own defence pairing? Is it time to separate Matthew Tkachuk from Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik?
Plenty ails the Flames right now, but they aren’t past the point of no return just yet. So you get one major change. Or maybe a couple of small ones. What is the move that gets them out of their currently precarious position?