Nazem Kadri is tonight’s Flames player to watch after a great outing against Arizona
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould1 month ago
It’s been a bit of a rough ride for Nazem Kadri in recent weeks, which made his three-point performance on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes all the more encouraging.
Kadri played a part in all three Calgary goals as the Flames took a 3–2 win over the Coyotes on home ice. The 32-year-old centre logged 16:50, took a pair of shots, and won 62 percent of his faceoffs in the game.
After assisting on back-to-back tallies by Dillon Dube and Elias Lindholm in the first period, Kadri added a goal of his own late in the third period to break a 2–2 deadlock. It went down in the books as his second game-winning goal as a Flame.
Kadri started the 2022–23 season as one of the Flames’ most consistently impactful players. More recently, however, his line with Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube has struggled to make an impact at both ends of the ice.
Entering the tilt against Arizona, the Flames had been out-chanced during Kadri’s shifts in 13 of the previous 20 games (and seven of the last nine). Individually, Kadri hadn’t scored since Nov. 17 and had managed just one assist in his last eight games.
The Flames signed Kadri to a seven-year contract with the idea that he’d be able to push play on the second line and in 5-on-4 situations. It’s not a coincidence that their power play (currently one of the league’s worst) started to fall apart as Kadri began to struggle.
Kadri finally got off the schneid in the third period against Washington with a helper on Mangiapane’s insurance goal, and that trend continued with his three-point performance against Arizona on Monday.
But, as is also usually the case for teams near the end of losing streaks, Kadri showed positive signs in the games right before he rediscovered his scoring touch, getting chances and helping his line stay above water against Florida and Montreal.
Even with his recent scoring drought, Kadri remains tied for the Flames’ scoring lead.
“It’s funny how this game works sometimes,” Kadri said after the win over Arizona. “You feel like you’re playing great, but no results to show for it. Sometimes it can be flipped. I’m lucky we got a great group of guys that are able to just pick me up.”
Kadri is one of the Flames’ most important zone-entry players, particularly on the PP. He’s also one of their top shooters for both volume and quality. He leads the team with 5.03 individual 5-on-5 expected goals this season (via NST) and is on the verge of becoming the first Flame to reach the 20-point plateau.
The Flames are just about set to take on the Minnesota Wild in a nationally televised game at the Saddledome on Wednesday evening. It’ll be a big night for both teams: Minnesota has won four in a row while Calgary is hunting for a third consecutive victory.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Andrew Mangiapane, and Dan Vladar have all been heating up for the Flames of late, but Kadri might just be the biggest X-factor of them all. He practically carried this team on his back at the start of the year — if he can get back to that level, the Flames might be able to challenge the Vegas Golden Knights for first in the Pacific.
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