Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Positive and negative trends in the first 24 games of the Calgary Flames season
2 months ago
We’re 24 games into the Calgary Flames season and we are starting to see some positive and negative trends with this team. Let’s take a look at some of those.
Positive Trend: Depth scoring
One of the big questions heading into the season was where are the goals going to come from? The consensus among the fan base was that they were going to have to score by committee. And that’s exactly what has happened this season.
The Flames have 15 players who have three goals or more this season, which means they’re all on pace to score double digit goals. Last season the Seattle Kraken led the NHL in players with double digit goals with 13.
A lot of those players are either defencemen, depth forwards or rookies who are scoring at or above average levels.
This has been critical to the Flames success they’ve had over the last 18 games or so. Hopefully they can keep getting this type of production from these players as the season progresses.
Negative Trend: Not enough scoring from the Flames’ best players
The big reason the Flames are tied for 20th in goals for is because of the lack of scoring from their marquee players. As of the morning of December 4th, the Flames leading goal scorer is Elias Lindholm with 7 goals and 17 points in 24 games. Lindholm is tied for 87th in the NHL in goals and tied for 98th in points. I don’t know if a team can make the playoffs if their top goal scorer and point-getter can’t crack the top 75 in either stat.
The Flames don’t have a single player on pace for at least 60 points this season. Only three of them are on pace to score more than 20 goals. And it’s not like they’re in the high 20s. Lindholm tops the list with 24. That is not ideal. And this is the biggest reason why they need to re-tool. They need to add elite players to their organization and essentially the only way to do that is drafting them.
Positive Trend: Comebacks
You have to give credit to the Flames for being a significantly more resilient team this early in the season compared to what we saw last year.
The Flames have won seven games when trailing at any point in the game. Five of those wins have come in the third period. It’s great to see the team have that mentality that they’re never out of a game. And it’s been fun for the fans to watch.
Negative Trend: Comebacks
There is a negative side to all these comeback wins and it’s the fact that the Flames have been trailing a lot this season (read Ryan Pike’s article on this topic for an in-depth look into this topic).
The Flames have trailed for a total of 731:55 in all situations. Only the Anaheim Ducks have trailed more this season.
The Flames can’t keep putting themselves in these situations if they want to continue to win games at a pace that’s going to get them in the playoffs.
Positive Trend: Goaltending in the organization
Goaltending at the NHL level has been solid. Jacob Markstrom has bounced back nicely after a brutal 2022-23 campaign. He’s been much better than his numbers would indicate. He faced many high quality chances and was hung out to dry often in the beginning of the season. There are a lot of games that could have been more lopsided had Markstrom not been as good as he has been. Dan Vladar has been hit and miss. But he hit a grand slam last week with an incredible performance against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The goaltending in the AHL has been incredible. Dustin Wolf and Oskar Dansk have been outstanding.
Hopefully we will get to see more of Dustin Wolf as the season progresses.
Negative Trend: Power Play
The Flames have to get their power play going if they want to push for a playoff spot because they don’t have the talent and skill to score a bunch at 5-on-5. And by ‘get going’ I mean get into the middle of the pack of the NHL. I don’t think it’s fair to expect this team to have a top ten power play.
The Flames had the 19th ranked power play last season. And that was with Tyler Toffoli, by far their best goal scorer. Take him away and it makes sense why the team is struggling on the man advantage.
This version of the Flames have the 26th ranked power play and are 26th in goals for per 60 minutes on the power play.
Here is how many teams made the playoffs with a power play ranked 26th or lower in a full 82 game season.
2022-23: New York Islanders (30th)
2021-22: LA Kings (27th)
2019-20: Chicago Blackhawks (28th), Columbus Blue Jackets (27th)
2018-19: New York Islanders (29th), Columbus Blue Jackets (28th)
The only team to make it past the first round out of this group is the Islanders in the 2018-19 season and they got swept in the second round.
Suffice it to say that the Flames need to get their power play out of the bottom seven of the NHL or else they are going to have a difficult time making the playoffs.
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