The good, bad and ugly of the Calgary Flames: Games 71-76
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames are in the middle of an intense playoff race with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets for the final wild card spot in the Western conference. And the Flames actually did themselves some favours in their last six game stretch.
They beat who they needed to beat in the Ducks, Sharks, and Canucks. And they pulled out an impressive victory against the hottest team in the NHL, the LA Kings.
Calgary even managed a three-game winning streak for the first time since December. Things look like they are starting to come together for the hometown heroes.
Let’s dive into the good bad and ugly of the Flames last six games.
Where would the Flames be without Tyler Toffoli this season? I’ll tell you where, in the Bedard sweepstakes.
He is the unquestioned MVP of this team as he has carried the offence on his shoulders for the majority of this season. He continued that strong play over the last couple weeks.
In his last six games, Toffoli leads the Flames in goals (5), points (8), and shots on goal (21). The Flames have outscored their opposition 4-0 with Toffoli on the ice at 5-on-5. That number jumps to 10-1 in all situations.
Toffoli is scoring at clutch times when his team needs it the most. Look no further than Friday night’s overtime victory against the Canucks where Toffoli scored the Flames first goal of the game after going down 2-0 to get some energy going on a team that needed a boost after a bad first period. He finishes off the night by scoring the overtime winner in a must win game.
Failed to load video.
Toffoli now has 33 goals and 69 points on the season, both are career highs. He is the only Flame to come close to the 30-goal mark as the next closest player in goal scoring is Nazem Kadri with 23. Toffoli will need to keep up this level of play if the Flames want to make the playoffs because he is not getting a ton of help from some of his teammates.
Going into the 2022-23 season, who would have thought Walker Duehr would be playing the role of hero during the middle of a playoff race? I know I didn’t.
But he is doing exactly that. Duehr was one of the most important Flame players over the last couple weeks. He had two goals and two primary assists in his last five games. And these were clutch points for the Flames in big games. He scored the game winning goal against the Kings on March 28. Scored the game tying goal and had the primary assist on the Kadri game winner against the Sharks on March 25.
Let’s give credit to the Flames amateur scouting staff for finding Duehr. He was not an obvious player to sign as an NCAA free agent in April of 2021. Duehr never broke the 20 point mark during his four years in the NCAA with Minnesota State University Mankato. The Flames scouting staff saw something in this player and made the smart decision to bring him into the organization and good on them for doing that. It’s paying big dividends during the Flames push for the playoffs.
This is the Weegar Flames fans were hoping to see when Brad Treliving acquired him as part of the Matthew Tkachuk trade.
Weegar has been the Flames best defenceman for the last month. Since Mar. 1, Weegar leads all Flames defensemen in scoring with 11 points in 15 games, including three goals.
Since March 1, among 194 NHL defenceman who have played at least 100 minutes, Weegar ranks sixth in CF%, tenth in xGF%, and sixteenth in SCF%. The Flames have outscored their opposition 15-8 at 5-on-5 with Weegar on the ice. He has been one of the most dominant defenceman in the league in the last 15 games.
The eye test backs up the numbers. You can see that Weegar is playing with a ton of confidence right now. He is carrying the puck up the ice more, taking more shots in the offensive zone, and has also been the Flames most physical player. He is dishing out huge hits on a nightly basis, especially in the Flames last six games. He is bringing a lot of energy, confidence and swagger to a Flames team that needs it right now.
One of the more underrated things about Weegar is his leadership capabilities. You can hear it when he speaks to the media. You can see it on the bench trying to hype up his teammates. Even on goal celebrations, he is always fired up on a team that doesn’t get too excited. He has been a breath of fresh air to a relatively stale Flames veteran lineup. I would give serious consideration to Weegar becoming the next captain of the Calgary Flames.
Flames specialty jerseys
Let’s give a shout-out to the Calgary Flames team and local artists who has been at the forefront of putting together designs for specialty jerseys this season. The Flames have done an incredible job celebrating indigenous culture, pride, black history month, and the lunar new year this season. These jerseys are a great way to celebrate and honour the cultures and traditions of all Flames fans. It’s a tremendous way to show that everyone is welcome to cheer for the Flames and feel safe being part of this awesome community.
Not using Jakob Pelletier
A common theme to my good, bad, and ugly articles has been criticizing Darryl Sutter’s lineup decisions. It’s getting a little tiresome doing so, but I have to call this one out. Why is Jakob Pelletier not playing? Why are Nick Ritchie and Milan Lucic regulars in the Flames lineup night in, night out?
I know the Flames have won three games in a row with the lineup that is currently constructed. But this is a team that could be even more dangerous if they decide to use the likes of Pelletier or maybe even Matthew Coronato in their lineup.
This Flames team is missing speed, skill, goal scoring ability, and help on the power play. Who can help with those aspects of the game? Pelletier can. He has done nothing but work hard, have an incredible attitude, and shown more leadership qualities than half the veterans on this team.
Enough of Lucic and Ritchie being mainstays in the Flames lineup. Both players will likely not be back with the team next season. Start investing more in your younger, more talented players who can help you win today and for years to come.
The Flames have had a solid run of games recently. Let’s give them a pass on the ugly and try to keep things as positive as possible as we head into the final six games of the season and their pursuit of a playoff spot!
That’s it for the good, bad, and ugly of the Flames last six games. What did you think about the Flames during that stretch of games? Let us know in the comments section!
Recent articles from Robert Munnich