Photo credit:© Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
The good, bad and ugly of the Calgary Flames: Games 17-21
2 months ago
What we’ve seen from the Calgary Flames over the last five games is what we should expect to see the rest of this 2023-24 season. The Flames went 2-2-1 over their last five games. A .500 record. And that’s what the Flames are. A team that will hover around the .500 mark.
They weren’t as bad as they showed in the first 10 games. They aren’t as good as they were a few weeks ago when they went 4-1-1. What we saw in this last five game stretch is the closest thing to the real Calgary Flames that we’ve seen this season.
They competed hard. They were competitive in every game they played in. They beat one of the best teams in the NHL (Dallas). But there were also games that they lost where they couldn’t put it all together.
Let’s take a look at the good, bad and ugly of games 17-21
Outscored Opposition 18-17
Leading scorer: Yegor Sharangovich (5 Points)
We are starting to see why the Flames were so excited to acquire Yegor Sharangovich as part of the Tyler Toffoli trade last June. Sharangovich led the Flames with five points in their last five games. Three goals and two first assists. He also scored in the shootout against the Islanders last Saturday.
It looks like he has started to develop chemistry with Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane at 5-on-5 which is good news for the Flames because they were unable to find a consistent spot for him in the lineup all season. Sharangovich has been outscored 13-6 when not on the ice with Lindholm and Mangiapane at 5-on-5. Hopefully being put in a spot to succeed will allow Sharangovich to continue this level of play for the rest of the season.
Jonathan Huberdeau has not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination lately. But he has started to show signs of improvement which is encouraging for the Flames.
In his last six games, Huberdeau has six points. Two goals and four assists. The points are great, but the most hopeful thing I have seen recently is his ability to make high end passes seems to be slowly coming back in his game. The most important thing Huberdeau brings to the table are his high end passes to his teammates to give them dangerous scoring opportunities. That is what has made him a good player in the past and it’s what he needs to do to help the Flames win.
The key is for Huberdeau to play like this over a long period of time before we can say he’s back. Four good games in his last six appearances is a step in the right direction. Let’s see if he can play at or around a point per game pace in the next 30-40 games.
Scoring by committee
We all know for the Flames to win games they need to score by committee. They need contributions from all four lines and their defencemen on the offensive side of the puck. And we’ve seen just that over the last five games.
13 different Flames have scored a goal in the last five games. The only regulars not to score in that time are Dillon Dube, Connor Zary, Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev.
It’s been tough watching Walker Duehr over the last few weeks. He was such an incredible story last season. He was one of the few positives to come out of the 2022-23 season. He scored seven goals and four assists in only 27 games last year while also adding an element of speed, tenacity, and energy to a Flames group that desperately needed it.
Unfortunately we just haven’t seen the same player this season. In 14 games, Duehr has one goal and three assists. But it’s not necessarily disappointing to see the drop in points. It was bound to happen. He has never been known for being an offensive player, even dating back to his days in the USHL.
What we haven’t seen is him making an impact when he does not have the puck on his stick. We aren’t seeing him winning as many battles, turning pucks over on the forecheck, or laying big hits. There are a lot of nights when he is in the lineup and you don’t even notice that he’s playing.
The numbers back that up too. Among 14 Flames forwards to play at least 100 minutes at 5-on-5, Duehr ranks 14th in CF% (47.44%) and xGF% (45.40%). 13th in SCF% (44.79%). And 12th in HDCF% (46.30%).
He’s at risk of losing his spot on the roster with an inevitable recall of Matt Coronato this season, and the potential return of Jakob Pelletier and Kevin Rooney to the Flames lineup.
The power play
The Flames power play has been horrendous, especially in their last ten games.
In their last ten games, the power play is 1 for 29 (3.45%) and have been outscored 2-1 on the man advantage. And it’s not like this is a group that has been generating a lot of chances but running into a hot goalie, or hitting a bunch of posts. This power play is generating nothing. It’s killing momentum and hurting them in games.
Since Nov. 6, Flames rank 31st in SCF/60 (39.09), and 30th in CF/60 (82.08). The Flames are having a hard time creating scoring chances and even getting shots on net.
Why is this happening? Is this a Marc Savard issue? Is this a talent issue?
Savard has had a top three ranked power play in St Louis with the Blues, and in Windsor with the Spitfires. So there is a track record of success there. That makes me think the Flames just don’t have the high end play makers to boast a top half of the league power play. The Flames had the 19th ranked power play last season, but that was with Tyler Toffoli, their best goal scorer. You take away Toffoli and this group features very few players who are natural goal scorers and high end playmakers.
We will start to see the power play turn around at some point this season. It won’t be this bad for long. Give Savard some more time to work with these players. But I don’t think fans will be seeing an upper echelon power play from the Flames any time soon.
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