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Starting Flames backup goalie Dan Vladar against the Oilers makes a lot of sense

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames meet the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, and the biggest news is that backup goaltender Dan Vladar is starting in net rather than Vezina Trophy runner-up Jacob Markstrom.
If you think about it, the approach isn’t terribly surprising.
Markstrom missed practice on Wednesday due to an illness and likely wasn’t 100% in the 5-3 win over Colorado. Giving him an extra day or two to reset before the Flames host Vegas on Tuesday makes sense. Vladar’s fresh and this would give him the “game a week” that Flames head coach Darryl Sutter is aiming to give him this season.
Markstrom also infamously struggled against Edmonton in the post-season, and has also struggled against Edmonton in his career. In 30 regular season starts against the Oilers, Markstrom has a .901 save percentage, 2.98 goals against average, and just 15 wins. Vladar’s never played the Oilers.
Starting the backup on the road is also a pretty Flamesy thing to do. If you look back on how the Flames have handled with the workload of their backups dating back as far as David Rittich’s introduction to the NHL, the gig has been playing road games, the second of back-to-back sets, and almost always the second of road back-to-back sets.
Vladar’s played 23 games with the Flames last season, with 18 of them being away from the Saddledome. He’s got a respectable .911 save percentage, .2.72 goals against average, two shutouts, and 10 wins in those road appearances – his underlying metrics are actually better on the road than at home.
Finally, as our Pat Steinberg has mentioned on this site and on Flames Talk on Sportsnet 960 The Fan: Vladar was excellent in the pre-season, perhaps being the Flames’ best player. It makes sense to both reward and challenge him based on how well he played.
Given all these factors: Markstrom’s illness, Markstrom’s struggles against Edmonton, and Vladar’s strong play on the road and in the pre-season, going with #80 against the Oilers makes a ton of sense.
We’ll see if it works out the way the Flames hope it will.

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