Photo credit:Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Zary-Kadri-Pospisil line has been a pleasant surprise for the Calgary Flames
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames needed an influx of young players, scoring, and most of all, fun, and they got that after making Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil into the mix as full-time players.
With forwards like Matthew Coronato struggling and Jakob Pelletier still recovering from an injury, those players needed to take a big step in the right direction, and they have, specifically due to a recent discovery that those two work well on the same line with Nazem Kadri, who needed a big bounce-back season in order to sleep the naysayers away.
We know what Kadri can bring at his best. Not only can he be a pest to the other team, but he is a really skilled player that can work the puck seamlessly through the neutral zone. He has been a good veteran presence for the young guys to learn from, too.
As for the two young guns, starting with Zary, the kid can flat out play. Everyone knew that his shot was going to be lethal, as it was his primary weapon coming out of the draft, but he’s also an extremely smart player with an underrated passing ability. He put up 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points in 6 AHL games this season before being called up. He’s a very smart player that knows where to put the puck.
Pospisil is a different player in the sense that he’s more of a power forward. He’s not going to “wow” anyone with incredibly skilled plays (although he certainly has the capability to make them), but he’s going to do the right things and use his speed and frame to beat opponents down the outside or physically in front of the net. He’s a bulldozer physically as well, which, along with Kadri, brings a whole different element to the Flames top six.
All together, those three playing on the same line has produced some excellent goals and results, like this:
And here’s another one!
Their line has been very good at keeping pucks out of their own net and even out of the defensive zone. Per Evolving-Hockey, they’re second on the team in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) among the lines that have played at least 50 minutes together at 5-on-5 (heading into the Dec. 31 game), and that’s due to their defence. Offensively, they’ve been good at times, and their management of the puck has led to great chances, but they manage the puck so well that the other team doesn’t have a chance to possess it. Even though the chances they generate might not be super high-quality on every shift, they are great at controlling the puck and playing defence in their own zone if necessary.
After a start to the 2023-24 season that resulted in lines being constantly mixed up outside of the Andrew Mangiapane-Mikael Backlund-Blake Coleman line, it’s nice to finally see that head coach Ryan Huska has put together three more players that found chemistry. They’ve needed another threatening line for a while, and two of the young players leading the charge is great to see as well.
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