The Flames need a difference-maker on the back end: Calgary Flames Q1 report cards
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The Calgary Flames have played 21 games of their 2022-23 schedule, completing the first quarter of their fixtures. They boast a 9-9-3 record, right at the .500 mark. When you break down the individual performances, that record bleeds into their grades – a mixture of good and bad throughout.
In terms of the goaltenders and defencemen on the club, through 21 games, the Flames need a big-time performer to emerge and lead the club from the back end.
Jacob Markstrom: 8-5-2, 3.30 GAA, .889 SV%
C+; On one hand, Markstrom’s faced a lot of good chances in seemingly every game. On the other hand, he’s been weirdly inconsistent given what we’ve seen from him in prior seasons. He’s at times been spectacular, and at other times he’s been prone to gaffes and bad goals. He needs to smooth out the rough spots in his game.
Dan Vladar: 1-4-1, 2.82 GAA, .908 SV%
C; Vladar has better numbers than Markstrom but worse results. If nothing else, Vladar has consistently given his team a chance and he’s been more consistent than Markstrom has been, but Markstrom’s highs have been better than Vladar’s.
Michael Stone: 2 G, 4 A, +5 in 11 GP
B; Stone’s played a sheltered role on the third pairing, sure. But he’s been quite good in that role, even working his way onto the power play and helping get the second unit going after a slow start. The offence missed the oomph of his point shot during his 10-game injury absence.
Nikita Zadorov: 4 G, 2 A, +8 in 21 GP
B; Zadorov’s had an interesting season, flexing in and out of the top four depending on game situations, and playing a bit with seemingly everybody. Regardless of the oddness of his role, he’s done pretty well with what he’s been asked to do. The downsides are the many penalties he’s taken and his occasional defensive lapses, but he’s been physical, energetic, and he’s definitely taken a step forward.
Rasmus Andersson: 2 G, 12 A, -4 in 21 GP
B-; Offensively, Andersson’s been quietly very good. His game hasn’t been flashy, but opting to shoot more from the point has led to more chaos in front and rebound goals from his teammates. Defensively, though, he and Hanifin have struggled at times.
MacKenzie Weegar: 0 G, 5 A, +2 in 21 GP
B-; Weegar may not be a dynamic presence on the Flames blueline (yet), but he’s been rock-solid and a few of his assists have been really smart hockey plays. (He sent Andersson in for a breakaway, for instance.) He’s had a pair of good defensive partners in Tanev and Zadorov for much of the season, but he’s been up to the challenge for most part as well.
Chris Tanev: 0 G, 3 A, -3 in 16 GP
B-; Is Tanev a big offensive powerhouse? Nope! But defensively he’s the great stabilizer for the Flames’ blueline and in the games he’s played, the team is noticeably calmer and more coherent on the back end.
Noah Hanifin: 1 G, 7 A, -4 in 21 GP
C+; Defensively, like Andersson, Hanifin hasn’t been amazing – he hasn’t been horrendous, but that pairing has been prone to mix-ups that lead to goals against. Offensively, he’s been really helpful at five-on-five but that hasn’t translated to the power play as much.
Dennis Gilbert: 0 G, 1 A, -1 in 7 GP
C+; Considering the role Gilbert was given and how little he played in the game he dressed for, he was low-key impressive. He had an assist and three fights, and otherwise faded into the background. For a third pairing guy with little NHL experience, that’s not a bad thing at all.
Connor Mackey: 0 G, 1 A, -4 in 5 GP
D; Mackey’s first quarter was almost the polar opposite of Gilbert’s, in that Mackey was frequently noticeable in challenging ways. Mackey’s definitely better than he showed, and a good deal of his challenges are some bad luck and bad timing, but the Flames were consistently on their heels with him on the ice.
Nick DeSimone: 0 G, 0A, -4 in 4 GP
Incomplete; DeSimone didn’t play much in the games he dressed for. He was on for too many goals against, though.
Which grades do you think are too high? Too low? Let us know in the comments!
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