3 things that should concern Calgary Flames fans heading into the All-Star break
Photo credit:© Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
As we head into the final 32 games of the 2022-23 season, the Calgary Flames need to figure out three key items if they want to make a run at getting in the playoffs, and doing some damage while there. Let’s take a look at these issues facing the Flames and their bid for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Flames have got below average goaltending all season long and it’s one of the biggest reasons why they are sitting outside a playoff spot at the all star break. Jacob Markstrom has not looked like the same player that he was last season. In the 2021-22 season. Markstrom was clearly one of the top three goalies in the NHL last season.
|Jacob Markstrom||Save Percentage||Goals Against Average||Goals Saved Above Average||High Danger Save Percentage|
|2021-22||0.922% (3rd)||2.22 (3rd)||26.10 (3rd)||0.849% (5th)|
|2022-23||0.893% (38th)||2.86 (23rd)||-10.30 (37th)||0.823% (25th)|
Markstrom definitely needs some help when it comes to run support. There is no doubt about that. But he also needs to step his game up and get back to being a top ten goaltender in the NHL like he is being paid to be. We all know Darryl Sutter is going to ride him as the number one goalie down the stretch drive, so it is critical for Markstrom to get out of this season long funk he has been in.
2: Jonathan Huberdeau
The most important thing that needs to happen in the final 32 games for the Flames is for the coaching staff to figure out how to get Huberdeau back to being at least a point per game player. He was brought in to be the Flames most dangerous offensive weapon. Someone who could single-handedly create offence for him and his linemates, similar to what Johnny Gaudreau did for eight seasons in Calgary. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet. There have been very few games this season where we walk away thinking “Jonathan Huberdeau was one of the best players on the ice tonight”.
He’s producing his worst points per game rate since the 2014-15 season. Huberdeau’s third in the NHL.
I think there are a few reasons for this. First is the fact that he is likely still dealing with the shock of the trade. I hope people understand how difficult of a situation this has been for Huberdeau. I know he makes an obscene amount of money and lives an incredible lifestyle. But he’s human just like the rest of us. He was absolutely blind sided by the organization that he was with for 10 seasons. He probably thought he was going to play there for the rest of his career. To go through a breakup like that must be devastating and we hope Huberdeau is doing okay.
A couple on ice reasons for his lack of production is that he is no longer in a free wheeling, offensive system like the on he played in Florida. The Flames do a lot of their work offensively along the boards and in the cycle. Huberdeau is a player who specializes in generating offence off the rush and plays with players who find space off the rush. That just doesn’t happen as much in Calgary. It also doesn’t help that he has been playing with Milan Lucic for an extended period this season.
Darryl Sutter will need to find a way to get more out of Huberdeau. Because if he stays on this 60 point pace for the rest of the season. the Flames will likely miss the playoffs.
3: How to live without Chris Tanev at 100%
We all know by now that the Flames are not the same team without Tanev in the lineup. The Flames are now 1-6-3 when Tanev is out of the lineup. The Flames depth on defence is exposed, particularly the third pairing without him.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tanev is going to be no where close to being 100% when he gets back into the Flames lineup. He has been dealing with injuries all season. And now he’s dealing with a shoulder injury. It would be unrealistic to expect Tanev to continue to play at an elite level. That’s almost impossible to do when you’re playing with one arm.
The Flames will need to make a trade to bring in some help. Luke Schenn, Niko Mikkola, and Olli Maatta are some guys they could look at to help eat minutes and add depth to this thin blueline.
If the Flames can get at least two of these issues solved in the next 32 games, they’ll likely be headed for the playoffs. If they can’t fix these problems, they’ll likely be on the outside looking in, which would be an unmitigated disaster.
What do you think the Flames need to improve upon in their final 32 games this season? Let us know in the comments section!
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