Photo credit:© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The good, bad and ugly of the Calgary Flames: Games 11-16
3 months ago
What a difference a couple weeks make. In the last Good, Bad, and Ugly we reviewed a five-game segment where the Flames went 0-5-0 and were outscored 21-8. Fast forward to today and the Flames are 4-1-1 in their last six games and are playing their best hockey of the season.
What’s changed? Firstly, the Flames are playing much better defensively. We are seeing less egregious turnovers and defensive breakdowns in their own end. It’s looking like the players are finally getting used to playing Ryan Huska’s zone defensive system.
One the other side of the puck, the Flames have been very opportunistic. This is not a team who creates a ton of dangerous scoring chances. They lack high end skill and play making. Because of that, the Flames need to score a lot of greasy goals to win games. And they did just that in their last six games.
Outscored opposition: 22-17
Leading scorers: Connor Zary, Blake Coleman, Nazem Kadri 5 points each
I’m not sure there are any fans out there that thought Martin Pospisil would have this much of a positive impact on the Flames. He has been one of their best players over the last six games. Pospisil has two goals and two assists, he was 5th in shots, and second in high danger scoring chances. The Flames have outscored their opposition 5-1 with Pospisil on the ice at 5-on-5 and have out chanced the opposition 4-0 in high danger chances.
The eye test is also matching what we’re seeing in the numbers. Pospisil has as an interesting set of skills. He’s big, fast, smart, and has some skill to go along with it. And last night against the Canucks we saw Pospisil stirring the pot with his hits on JT Miller and Quinn Hughes which got the Canucks off their game. We’ve heard that Pospisil is an agitator, and we saw that for the first time last night.
However, I do think we need to temper our expectations for Pospisil. He’s on a heater right now. Pospisil in on pace for 27 goals and 27 assists. He’s not going to be that productive of a player moving forward. He is someone who could be a solid bottom six contributor. But i’m not sure he is THIS good.
As we all know, Nazem Kadri got off to a terrible start to the season. He was one of the worst players on the team in the first ten games of the season. But you have to give credit when credit is due. Kadri has turned his game around in the last six games.
In the last six games, Kadri has put up two goals and three assists, which is tied for the team lead in points. He has been dynamic with the puck on his stick. He looks a lot more confident with the puck, carrying it up the ice and making plays.
One thing that has to be noted is that Connor Zary has played a big role in helping turn Kadri’s game around. Their games work well together as Kadri is someone who wants the puck on his stick and Zary is someone who can get it to him. They’re both smart, offensive players and have been a match made in heaven so far.
We have to give a shout-out to the Calgary Wranglers, the best team in the AHL by points and points percentage. They’re 10-1-1. They’ve scored 44 goals and allowed 27.
The most impressive part is that they are doing it without the services of Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil, Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Phillips, Jeremie Poirier, and Nick DeSimone. How can an AHL team lose that much talent and still be this good?
Goaltending is playing a major role. And it’s not just Dustin Wolf. Oscar Dansk has also been outstanding this season. He’s played in six games. in those games he has a 0.941 save percentage (best in the AHL), and a 1.97 goals against average (4th in the AHL). His numbers are better than Dustin Wolf’s.
The Wranglers also getting great performances out of Matt Coronato, Emilio Pettersen, Adam Klapka, and Ben Jones. They are leading the way offensively.
It’s been a great stretch of hockey for the Flames recently. Because of that don’t have any bad or uglys for the Flames.
However, there is an ugly situation going on in Columbus right now involving a former, beloved, Calgary Flame.
Johnny Gaudreau is having himself a horrendous season for the Blue Jackets. In 17 games, Gaudreau has one goal and five assists. His one goal was an empty netter. He is tied for 11th in points on the Blue Jackets. Erik Gudbranson is ahead of him in scoring.
It’s got so bad that Gaudreau has been benched multiple times in third periods of games the Blue Jackets were trailing in. Columbus fans and reporters are dumbfounded when it comes to Gaudreau. It sounds like he looks nothing like his former self.
The Blue Jackets have lost 11 of their last 12 games. And a big part of that is because Gaudreau is not producing any offence and he’s not making his teammates around him better like he did in Calgary for so many years.
This has been devastating for the Blue Jackets. They were expecting to compete for a playoff spot this year with Gaudreau leading the charge offensively. But it just hasn’t happened.
It’s remarkable how similar the Gaudreau and Huberdeau situations are in Calgary and Columbus. Both players have struggled mightily since signing gigantic seven- and eight-year contracts with their new teams. And there aren’t signs that they’re going to turn it around any time soon.
Now there are fans throwing out the idea of a Gaudreau for Huberdeau trade. Which would be fascinating. Both players have a full no move clause in their contracts so it would be almost impossible to make that deal happen. But it’s interesting to think about and discuss.
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