Photo credit:© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Blake Coleman has been one of the most under-appreciated Calgary Flames forwards
2 months ago
If there’s one thing that pops into my head when looking at the “stats” page for the Calgary Flames on NHL.com, it’s that the team is doing things by committee. Their 9-10-3 record could certainly be better, but as of late, they’ve looked like a much more cohesive unit in their systems, and 11 players with at least 10 points is never a bad thing, even though the separation from the first position (Elias Lindholm) and 11th position (Connor Zary) is only five points.
One player who embodies the consistency that the team has needed for a while now is Blake Coleman.
Over the course of 22 games in 2023-24, Coleman has been exactly what the Flames have needed in the forward core. Not only is he getting on the score sheet (not as much as he probably deserves, which I’ll touch on later), but he’s also a player who does the little things correctly. He forechecks hard, he throws big hits, he goes to the dirty areas in front of the net and in the corners, and he creates chances for his teammates as well.
Here are just a couple of examples of the kind of player that Coleman is for the Flames:
In this first clip, he goes to the front of the net and scores the tying goal in Calgary’s (eventual) win against the Dallas Stars.
And here’s Coleman showcasing his off-puck instincts, sneaking behind the defenseman and shooting straight to the net, and he gets rewarded for that decision.
And here’s a great chance he creates by opening up and looking for options coming in late on the rush, this one being Jonathan Huberdeau.
Oh, and here’s a big hit, just for fun.
And as much as the video clips suggest that he’s doing well, sometimes the eye test can be slightly deceiving. Luckily, it isn’t with Coleman.
In 22 games played, Coleman is fifth on the team in scoring with 12 points in 22 games. If he plays a full 82 games, which he did last season, at this scoring pace, he would be on track for 46 points – a career-high by eight points.
Now, back to the part where I said he probably could be getting more results. Well, according to the analytics, that’s true.
Coleman sits 12th on the Flames in goals above replacement (GAR), but he’s first in expected goals above replacement (xGAR) at 4.5, per Evolving-Hockey. The next highest player is Andrew Mangiapane, who sits at 3.5 xGAR.
And just to help prove the point a bit further, here is Coleman’s regularized adjusted plus-minus chart from Evolving-Hockey:
The Flames are still missing an elite scorer, and the likelihood that they find one outside of the NHL Draft is very low. However, it’s players like Coleman, who is consistently good in all of the areas of the game and has been since joining the Flames, that keep this team afloat and, to some, at a watchable level. His name hasn’t been out there as much as many others, but he’s an important member of the team and deserves some recognition for his performance so far in 2023-24.
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