Barn Burner: Should Flames fans be concerned about Andrei Kuzmenko’s dwindling minutes?

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Mackenzie
1 month ago
On Friday’s episode of Barn Burner, Boomer, Pinder, and Rhett broke down a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome, sweeping the season series with the east coast juggernauts. While most of the Flames looked solid throughout the night, there was a lack of minutes for a certain newcomer, specifically in the third period.

Andrei Kuzmenko, acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in the Elias Lindholm trade, saw 10:25 of ice time in Thursday’s contest while being shuffled around multiple lines. Notably, he didn’t see any action for the final nine minutes of the third period. What’s most concerning about Kuzmenko’s game is his defensive ability, something that contributed to his falling out of favour with Rick Tocchet in Vancouver.
“There’s just an apathy to the defensive zone and it’s been his knock the whole way through.” said Pinder when discussing Kuzmenko’s play style. “Now the whole way isn’t a long time, but this was never a good defensive player if you look at any metrics.
“He had a bad go in Vancouver and you wonder how a coach can bench a 39 goal scoring rookie. Maybe you’re finding out why.” Rhett added on the Flames’ new addition. “Usually when a guy get’s moved, there’s a longer runway of passion and compete. He’s not been here this long where he can put his feet up. Clearly, this is how he plays and who he is and maybe it’s part of the learning curve…. It’s in his control.”
While Kuzmenko may be struggling to find where he fits within his new team’s system, it’s way too early to give up on the player as Pinder would go on to remind listeners that we have seen this before with another player earlier in the season.
“This is what happened with Sharangovich in the first month guys. Remember when he was centring the fourth line? He started in camp with Huberdeau and Lindholm and he was a fourth line centre right up until that outdoor game in Edmonton. After that, Huska had to break him down to build him back up kind of thing in terms of how you are going to play on this team. From there, he went on that torrid heater from December to late November… I see some similarities here.”
In his eight games played with the Flames since the trade, Kuzmenko has three goals and one assist with a minus two rating. It hasn’t been the easiest transition for the Russian winger to adjust to his new team, but the Flames project has lot’s of time to find his footing in Calgary.
Check out Friday’s episode in full here:

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