The Calgary Flames’ power play is on a hot streak, but their penalty kill has gone ice cold

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
On Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flaems did something for just the sixth time this season: they scored multiple power play goals. But they also did something they’ve done eight times this season: they allowed multiple power play goals.
The Flames failed to win the special teams battle, and they narrowly lost to the Oilers by a 4-2 score. Over the past 10 games, as the Flames’ power play has filled the net, their once stingy penalty kill has become uncharacteristically leaky.
Over the past 10 games, the Flames have scored 11 power play goals, converting on 35.5% of their advantages. While the team has scored just 14 goals at five-on-five, their strong power play performances have given them a fighting chance in most games.
Remember the six multi-goal games for their power play? Half of those have come over the past 10 games, and they’ve scored at least one power play goal in seven of their last 10 games. Whatever way you want to slice it, the power play has been flat-out excellent, and the team’s climbed up from being 30th in the NHL to the 27th slot. (It’s not amazing, but it’s a huge improvement.)
Not much has necessarily changed for the PP units in terms of composition or strategy, but the chemistry has seemed to click and the goals just started to pile up.
“Execution is way better,” said Jonathan Huberdeau after Saturday’s game. “We know where we can be. We’ve been the same unit for awhile now, so I think we’re moving the puck well, then we have a lot of looks and guys are scoring.”
Flames head coach Ryan Huska agreed with Huberdeau’s assessment.
“I think execution for sure, that’s one thing,” said Huska. “When they get the puck in the zone, they seem like they have a little bit more urgency to make plays. The passes are on the tape right now. And when they’re feeling better about themselves, it seems like it’s fluid, and that’s what it is right now. They’ve made some good plays with the puck and they’ve ended up scoring some goals over the last, probably nine games now. It’s been on a good tear.”
For the last while, the top unit has consisted of Nazem Kadri, Andrei Kuzmenko, Yegor Sharangovich, Huberdeau, and either MacKenzie Weegar or Daniil Miromanov. Collectively, they’ve scored nine PP goals over the past 10 games. The second unit has included Mikael Backlund, Rasmus Andersson, either Weegar or Miromanov, and two of Andrew Mangiapane, Blake Coleman, Connor Zary and Matt Coronato. (The composition has varied lately due to injuries to Zary and Mangiapane.) They’ve scored twice.
But despite the potent PP, the Flames have won just twice in the past 10 games. One of the reasons for that is while the Flames’ PP has scored on 35.5% of their advantages, they’ve allowed goals on 40% of opposition PPs – allowing 12 goals in the past 10 games.
“Our penalty kill’s got to do a better job, at the end of the day,” assessed Huska. “Whether the power play’s a good power play or not, our penalty kill has to do a better job.”
Over the past 10 games, the Flames have been out-scored at five-on-five 20-14. The hot streak by their power play should have been enough to make up for that, at least sometimes. Generally, it hasn’t been the case: the Flames have won the special teams battle in only three games.
That’s sort of been how it’s gone for the Flames this season; when one part of their game gets going, another seems to spring a leak.
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