Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Jacob Markstrom’s injury gives both Vladar and Wolf a chance to grab the reins
2 months ago
It was a shock across the Calgary Flames portion of the internet when it was reported that Jacob Markstrom went straight back to the dressing room after being hit with a shot on the unpadded part of his right hand during Monday’s practice.
Markstrom has been very good for the Flames in net this season, a far cry from the disappointing performance he had starting early last season. He sits fifth in goals saved above expected (GSAx) with the fourth-highest expected goals against (xGA) in the league over the course of 16 starts, which is the lowest number of starts out of goalies in the top 10.
With the Flames’ star goaltender set to be absent week-to-week with a fractured finger, it opens up a spot for both Dan Vladar and Dustin Wolf to try and win.
Vladar is a polarizing figure in the eyes of Flames fans and media. For many, he’s an okay goaltender who, at the end of the day, is just a roadblock for the guy who is “next in line” for the Calgary net. He’s a piece that Craig Conroy should be willing to trade if he gets the right offer or even put on waivers to add Wolf to the roster. However, to others, Vladar is still a very solid goaltender, and there’s no reason to let him go at this point because of the games won when he’s in the net, especially if the price isn’t right.
Over the course of seven games, Vladar has posted a 4-2-1 record with a 3.20 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage. He also is 40th out of 52 goalies in GSAx with a value of minus-2.64 (minimum 300 unblocked shot attempts against). So, in his limited number of starts, the numbers are not in his favor, despite the four wins to his record, including one where he deserved it against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The other goalie in the mix is Wolf, who made his case to be full-time in the NHL last year and is doing it again this year. The reigning AHL MVP is working his magic again through 13 games, where he has posted a 2.50 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage, and a record of 10-3-0. His one game this season in the NHL could have been better from a results standpoint, but it’s one game, and this chance might be the one he needs to really break through and gain that spot (or the backup spot in the NHL once Markstrom returns).
No matter which way you fall in terms of the “Who should get more starts if Markstrom is hurt?” argument, there’s no way to ignore the fact that this is a crucial time for both goaltenders.
When Markstrom comes back, his performance will be under a magnifying glass, and the hope is that nothing will change over the time that he’s gone (especially if it’s longer-term). Nonetheless, this is an extremely important time for the makeup of the Flames’ goaltending tandem, and it’s a big opportunity for two goalies looking for just that.
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