Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Looking back on the 2023 calendar year for the Calgary Flames
1 month ago
2023 did not treat the Calgary Flames and their fan base well. It simply was a year to forget. The team vastly under-performed and had lots of drama on and off the ice.
Let’s take a look back at some stats and a positive and negative storyline from 2023.
First, let’s take a look at the numbers as of Dec. 29.
Record: 34-30-15 (22nd)
Points Percentage: 0.525 (21st)
Goals for: 245 (19th)
Goals against: 248 (20th)
Team save percentage: 0.888% (30th)
Shooting percentage: 8.95% (30th)
PDO: 0.977 (31st)
Points Leader: Mikael Backlund (54 Points)
Goal Leader: Blake Coleman (24 Goals)
Assist Leaders: Mikael Backlund & Elias Lindholm (35 Assists)
Power Play: 16.6% (27th)
Penalty Kill: 84% (4th)
Hits: 1,591 (18th)
Blocks: 1,114 (25th)
It was a pretty miserable year from a numbers perspective. The only statistical category that the Flames finished in the top 10 of the NHL was the penalty kill.
They didn’t have a player to exceed 55 points or 25 goals. Their goaltending was bad. There wasn’t much to get excited about.
The most positive thing to come out of 2023 for the Calgary Flames is the change in direction both on and off the ice.
Off the ice, the Flames made significant changes to their management and coaching staffs. Gone are Brad Treliving and Darryl Sutter. In come Craig Conroy and Ryan Huska.
Things got incredibly toxic under Sutter’s leadership. Multiple players had reportedly asked for trades. Young players rarely got an opportunity to play. He was stuck in his ways and wore out his welcome with nearly everyone in the Flames organization.
The Flames also needed a change in the front office. Brad Treliving had nearly nine years to make his mark on the organization and all he had to show for it were two playoff series victories, one of those coming in his first year as GM.
Craig Conroy and Ryan Huska have brought a new, positive energy to the Calgary Flames organization that was badly needed.
There has also been a change with the direction of the team on the ice. We are seeing more of a willingness to put youth in the lineup with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil. That’s going to continue when Jakob Pelletier and Jeremie Poirier return from their respective injuries.
The youth movement will continue, especially when the inevitable trades of Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Chris Tanev. It’s good to see the Flames looking towards the future because the current iteration of the team is not getting it done.
From a negative perspective, the biggest on ice story of 2023 was the performance, or lack thereof, of some of the Flames top players. It all starts with Jonathan Huberdeau. In the 2023 calendar year, Huberdeau put up 45 points in 79 games. He’s lost his confidence and swagger. He’s nowhere near the player he was in Florida and the one who signed his eight year, $84 million contract in the summer of 2022.
Elias Lindholm has not been the same offensive play driver he was when he played on a line with Johnny Gaudreau. The defensive game is still strong as he finished in the top 10 of Selke Trophy voting. And that’s great. But the Flames need him to be a 70+ point scorer in order to justify giving him an eight year contract extension. But that hasn’t happened.
Nazem Kadri had a long stretch of games dating back to the all-star break last season to the first month of the 2023-24 season where he wasn’t the player the Flames needed him to be.
Andrew Mangiapane only scored 16 goals in the 2023 calendar year. That’s not good enough for a player we all know has the potential to score 25-30 goals.
Finally, Jacob Markstrom has under-performed over the last 12 months. In 2023, Markstrom had a 0.895% save percentage, a 2.87 goals against average, and had a -17.60 goals saved above expected. He’s been better as of late, but it still wasn’t good enough for someone with the impressive track record and talent Markstrom possesses.
2024 is going to be a very interesting year for the Calgary Flames. There are going to be major changes to their lineup, more of a focus on playing young players, and an emphasis on building for the future. Something the vast majority of Flames fans are looking forward to seeing.
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