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Marc Savard is going to be a huge help for the Calgary Flames this season

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Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
6 months ago
The Calgary Flames in 2022-23 had plenty of problems. From poor goaltending to under-performance from big-name players, you could find plenty of reasons to be angry at the team’s results. One of the big problems was the team’s power play. It was stagnant, with very little player movement. The puck movement was easy to predict, and it was a bore to watch from a fan’s perspective. Unsurprisingly, the Flames’ power play ranked 19th in the league (although it felt worse than that).
But over the off-season, the Flames fired Darryl Sutter and parted ways with associate coach Kirk Muller, who helped to run the previous power play. Then, with the hiring of Ryan Huska, they hired Marc Savard, who is being given the chance to take over the power play. And considering how the team looks on the man advantage so far over the preseason and regular season, I would say it has been a very smart decision. Take a look at the kind of puck movement we’re seeing now.
Here’s another example from the most recent regular season game:
The Flames’ start, in general, hasn’t been that strong, and the same could be said for their start on the power play. The process looks good, but they haven’t been able to put the puck in the net as much as they probably would have wanted to by this point. However, I think it’s important to note that no goals to show for a good process are a much better indicator of future success than plenty of goals that come to fruition with a below-average process. If pucks are going in willy-nilly, but the puck movement isn’t creating many chances, then sooner or later, the pucks are going to stop going in.
It’s not just the eye test that we can see the process working well, though; it’s in the numbers too. Although the Flames currently sit tied for 23rd in power play percentage, tied at 12.5% with a plethora of other teams, like the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the New York Islanders. However, they sit 11th in power play expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60), which suggests that they’re getting some above-average chances in the offensive zone.
The Flames, at times, have been fun to watch so far in 2023-24. It doesn’t feel like they have played a tremendously terrible game so far, but there are moments during every game where issues arise. Players get lazy, the defense isn’t strong in the zone, the offence disappears, or all of those things happen at the same time! It’s a frustrating place to be, and one way to get out of a slump is to have special teams that can generate momentum and score some goals. And, although that first part has happened on multiple occasions, that second part has not, seeing as they don’t always go hand in hand.
There are lots of different pieces of the puzzle still yet to be put in place for this Flames team. They look like a group of guys still trying to figure everything out, and that’s okay. It’s still very early. However, this can’t go on as long as the issues did in the early part of last season. Even though they were mere inches away from a postseason berth, they weren’t able to cross the line, and a spiral started early in the season to make that the case. So, there’s still time left to get things right, and the signs point to the possibility of an improved finishing ability, especially on the power play, but it needs to start happening soon.

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