Flames forwards have lacked flash and consistency (so far): Calgary Flames Q1 report cards
Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The Calgary Flames have played 21 games of their 2022-23 schedule, completing the first quarter of their fixtures. They boast a 9-9-3 record, right at the .500 mark. When you break down the individual performances, that record bleeds into their grades – a mixture of good and bad throughout.
While the blueline group has lacked big performers, the forward group has seen them from time to time. The big challenge with the forward group has been their game-to-game consistency.
Mikael Backlund: 5 G, 5 A, +4 in 21 GP
B; Backlund has been Backlund. Has he been a massive offensive presence? Not really, but he’s been steady, and his steadiness has been his defining quality when he’s been on the ice. The only thing dragging his grade down, given his role, are the recent penalty kill struggles the club has had.
Blake Coleman: 3G, 6 A, +1 in 21 GP
B; Coleman has spent much of his season joined at the hip with Backlund, and he’s been essentially as good. Coleman’s puck pursuit has allowed his team to have the puck pretty often when he’s on the ice, which is a big piece of what makes the Flames’ system work. As with Backlund, the club’s penalty killing challenges drag his grade down a bit.
Elias Lindholm: 6 G, 10 A, -4 in 21 GP
B-; Last season, Lindholm was a two-way presence without peer and was the connective tissue that helped a really impressive scoring line get the puck, keep the puck, and do awesome things with the puck. Admittedly, his linemates are downgraded slightly, but Lindholm also hasn’t been quite as sharp in his role. There were bound to be growing pains.
Nazem Kadri: 8 G, 7 A, -7 in 21 GP
B-: Kadri’s been good but not great, and his line has had some defensive challenges this season. More consistency in all three zones is needed, and perhaps that would get Kadri more chances at the net in the offensive zone going forward. (He was awesome early on, but faded in the next 10 games or so.)
Tyler Toffoli: 7 G, 7 A, +1 in 21 GP
B-; Toffoli is almost Jiri Hudler-esque in his game. Sometimes he’ll go awhile without being particularly noticeable, for good or bad reasons, and then he’ll pop off for a strong offensive performance or two. Arguably the best finisher on the team, he’s looked like their most dangerous player with the puck.
Jonathan Huberdeau: 3 G, 7 A, +4 in 18 GP
B-; Huberdeau looked out of place early. But after his return from injury he was placed on Mikael Backlund’s line, and he seemed to figure things out and the noise has largely been removed from his game. When Huberdeau is “on,” he can be excellent.
Brett Ritchie: 4 G, 2 A, +1 in 19 GP
C+; Ritchie’s modus operandi has always been scoring a few nice goals and then largely fading into the background. He’s largely done that, with a few really nice goals so far and otherwise playing rock-solid, inoffensive ice hockey in a depth role.
Adam Ruzicka: 5 G, 4 A, even in 11 GP
C; Ruzicka’s been occasionally very noticeable and occasionally pretty quiet. When he’s having a good game, he’s in the thick of things. But near the end of the quarter, he quieted down quite a bit for three or four games. We’ll split the difference and place him here.
Andrew Mangiapane: 3 G, 4 A, -7 in 21 GP
C; The good news is that Mangiapane is usually someone you can notice on the ice. The bad news is occasionally that’s for the wrong reasons. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s also had a few gaffes and puck miscues that have led to goals against at bad times.
Dillon Dube: 3 G, 3 A, -4 in 21 GP
C; Dube’s had a pretty similar season to Mangiapane. He just hasn’t had the consistency necessary to be effective on both sides of the puck, and it’s hurt the club at times.
Trevor Lewis: 4 G, 2 A, -1 in 21 GP
C; Lewis has been reliable but unspectacular. He’s been the guy often elevated from the fourth line to fill in a gap on the third line and he’s done reasonably well and worked hard, but he doesn’t really have the ability to play higher than the fourth line for long stretches.
Kevin Rooney: 0 G, 1A, -2 in 15 GP
C-; Rooney’s been decent enough here and there, but his face-off numbers have occasionally drawn Darryl Sutter’s ire and he’s been the most frequent healthy scratch among Flames forwards. It’s probably safe to say that he’s under-performed.
Milan Lucic: 0 G, 5 A, -6 in 21 GP
D; Our pal Mike Gould wrote quite a bit about Lucic’s challenges this season recently, so there’s no real reason to pile on. Needless to say, Lucic has been less energetic and boisterous on the ice than we expected to see, which occasionally has caused challenges for his hockey club.
Which grades do you think are too high? Too low? Let us know in the comments!
Recent articles from Ryan Pike