The good, bad and ugly of the Calgary Flames: Games 61-65
Photo credit:© Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
12 days ago
The latest five game segment for the Calgary Flames was the most emotional stretch of games the team has played in all season. First you have the heart breaking loss to the Boston Bruins where the Flames out-shot the best team in hockey 57-20, which was the most shots on goal the Bruins have allowed all season, and the fewest shots on goal they have been able to register all year. Yet the Flames still found a way to lose that game.
Then you have lackluster efforts against the Leafs and Wild at home where Calgary had a very difficult time creating offense and emotional engagement.
Finally we end things with two incredibly exciting finishes against the Stars and Wild where the Flames walk away with four points.
It was a crazy eight days for Flames fans. Hopefully everyone is able to catch their breath over the next couple days and get ready for the final 17 games of the season.
Let’s dive into the good, bad, and ugly.
(All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick)
Return of the Mack
MacKenzie Weegar is playing some of his best hockey as a Calgary Flame in the last five games. You can see it when watching Weegar as he has never looked more confident and assertive with the puck. He is carrying the puck up the ice more, getting more shots on goal in the offensive zone, and has stepped up the physicality in his own end.
On of the main reasons for his great play of late is due to the change in defence pairings by Darryl Sutter. Weegar is playing the left side on a pairing with Rasmus Andersson. Those two seem to work well off each other. They’re both smart, skilled, 200-foot defencemen that play a similar style of game.
The numbers would back all this up. In his last five games, Weegar has outscored his opposition 5-1 at 5-on-5. He has a CF% of 57.79%, xGF% of 52.92%, and also added two assists during this last stretch of games.
This is the Weegar Flames fans were hoping for when they acquired him in the off-season. Let’s hope he is able to keep this going as the Flames pursue a playoff spot.
Tyler Toffoli is clutch
One thing the Flames have lacked this season is someone who steps up and produces in big moments. How many times have we talked about the Flames needing a big goal in a tie or one goal game?
Well, at least in their last two wins they’ve gotten just that. Toffoli has produced clutch goals in their wins against the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild. His first game winner came on a breakaway with less than ten seconds remaining in the game against the Stars. His second winner came in the shootout in a crazy finish against the Wild.
He came close to scoring in regulation in Minnesota when he hit the cross bar in the third period.
Toffoli has been arguably the most important Flame this season. He has been the one player who consistently has scored goals, particularly on the power play where no one else has been able to produce. He will be an integral part of the playoff push in their final 17 games of the season.
Biggest doing a favor to the rest of the NHL
The fourth line
One of the main things holding the Flames back right now is their fourth line. And in particular, the play of Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis.
I hate to continually call Lucic out in a negative light, but his play has fallen off so significantly that it’s hurting the Flames chance to make the playoffs. In the Flames last 18 games , Lucic has only registered a single point, a goal against the Arizona Coyotes. In those same 18 games, the Flames have been outscored 9-2 when Lucic is on the ice at 5-on-5. Among Flames regulars, he ranks last in GF%, last in SCF%, and second last in xGF% and CF%. The eye test backs up the numbers. Lucic is having a hard time keeping up with the play and has a difficult time handling the puck. He does not look like an NHL player anymore.
The same can be said for Lewis. His numbers are just as bad, if not worse in some cases. In their last 18 games, the Flames have been outscored 7-2 with Lewis on the ice at 5-on-5. Lewis has one assist, the second assist on the Lucic goal mentioned above. Since Jan. 22, Lewis is last on the Flames in xGF% and CF%. The Flames are getting crushed when these two are on the ice together.
Here are the numbers when Lucic and Lewis are on the ice at 5-on-5, and what the Flames numbers are when they are not on the ice.
|With 17 & 22||253:22||5-12||29.41%||46.36%||44.05%|
|W/O 17 & 22||1981:07||100-79||55.87%||56.42%||53.92%|
The Flames are a very good, if not great team at 5-on-5 when Lewis and Lucic are on the bench. Calgary can’t afford to get outscored this badly when Lucic and Lewis are on the ice, especially in tied and one goal games, which the Flames seem to play in all the time. That’s the difference between winning 2-3 more games and not.
There are suitable replacements for them in Adam Ruzicka and Walker Duehr. Sutter’s seeming preference for veteran players with Cup rings could be a contributing reason for Lewis and Lucic remaining in the lineup. But not making this change could be a reason why this team doesn’t make the playoffs if that is to happen.
Loss to Minnesota on Saturday
Those who were still awake in the hockey world tuned into Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday to see the Calgary Flames fight for their playoff lives against the Minnesota Wild. Well, at least we thought they were going to put in a great effort.
Unfortunately, fans were treated to one of the worst Flames games in recent memory. The Flames played with no urgency, no emotion, and no desperation. This is a team that has put themselves in a bad spot when it comes to the playoff picture. They can not afford to take any nights off.
No one stepped up using their skills. No one stepped up physically with a hit or fight. And no one stepped up emotionally. It was a team that looked defeated with 19 games left in their season.
Minnesota out chanced Calgary 36-18 at 5-on-5. High danger chances were 15-8.
The Flames performance was so bad that they got booed off the ice which is very rare for their committed, positive fan base to do.
Thankfully, the Flames made up for it a little bit with valiant efforts against the Stars and Wild a couple nights later. But it still doesn’t make up fully for one of the worst performances on Saddledome ice in years.
That’s it for this weeks good, bad and ugly. Let us know what you thought about the Flames last five game segment in the comments section!
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