How did the auditioning Calgary Flames forward trio look against the Winnipeg Jets?
Photo credit:James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The Calgary Flames dressed four forwards on Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets that were not everyday NHL players in 2022-23. That quartet included Matt Coronato, Adam Ruzicka, Dryden Hunt and Cole Schwindt. Coronato was excellent, but he had arguably amassed a body of work throughout training camp that had given him a strong case for a roster spot beforehand.
But the other three players are still making their cases for full-time NHL employment. How did they look?
A lot of the pre-game chatter surrounded Adam Ruzicka. He spent the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign on the Flames’ roster – and had a stretch where he was excellent – but his play had faded by mid-season and he spent much of the back half of the season in the press box.
He spent Monday’s game on a line with Nazem Kadri and Dillon Dube, and got some reps on the second power play unit. His game seemingly mirrored the team’s; he mishandled the puck a few times early on and was slightly out of position for a couple key passes on breakouts, but he found a rhythm in the second period.
He ended up logging 13:45 of ice time, including 1:09 on the power play, with three shots, a goal, and a plus-2 rating. But he went 0-for-4 at the face-off dot.
Post-game, head coach Ryan Huska commented on the impressive nature of Ruzicka’s goal, scored in the net-front area with a defender immediately beside him.
“He played with pace tonight, too,” said Huska. “When you watched him skate around out there, he’s a big man but he can get to places quickly when he’s working. And that’s what we need to see out of him. You go to the net hard like that, he’s a hard guy to contain.”
Dryden Hunt & Cole Schwindt
Vying for fourth line duties, Hunt and Schwindt worked on a line with Blake Coleman – Hunt on the right side, Schwindt at centre.
“They didn’t get a ton of ice time, I guess I would say,” said Huska. “They were on the ice for a couple goals against. I thought Schwindt actually did a pretty good job on a lot of face-offs that he ended up taking for us. There were a few key draws that I thought he won that we needed him to. There were shifts in the second period where I thought that line was very good. They created some energy in the offensive zone and allowed the lines that were coming out next to kind of pick up off that momentum.”
Hunt finished minus-2 with two penalty minutes in 6:37. Schwindt finished minus-2 in 7:52 (including 1:21 of shorthanded work), and was 6-for-9 at the face-off dot. Hunt turned over the puck at the defensive blueline on the play that led to Winnipeg’s fourth goal late in the second period.
In the aggregate: the duo wasn’t amazing, but they weren’t awful. In a small sample size, there was good and bad to be found in their games.
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