On Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks, Jacob Markstrom allowed four goals and had a pretty blunt assessment of his own performance: “Not good.” The Calgary Flames return to action with a back-to-back set, facing Arizona on Friday night and Edmonton on Saturday night.
Coming off a loss and a poor Markstrom performance, how should the Flames split their goaltending duties over the coming weekend?
The Flames have two netminders at their disposal:
- Markstrom, who leads the NHL with nine shutouts and has a 29-12-7 record with a 2.11 goals against average and .927 save percentage
- Backup Dan Vladar, who has a 9-5-1 record with a 2.84 goals against average and .904 save percentage
It goes without saying that Markstrom is the undisputed top goaltender in Calgary, based both on contract and performance. He’s a legitimate Vezina Trophy contender.
Here’s a rundown of how the Flames have used their goalies in 12 back-to-backs in the season thus far.
Oct. 25 & 26
Nov. 11 & 12
Nov. 20 & 21
Dec. 2 & 3
Jan. 6 & 7
Jan. 26 & 27
Feb. 1 & 2
Feb. 9 & 10
Feb. 15 & 16
Mar. 7 & 8
Mar. 12 & 13
Mar. 18 & 19
Generally speaking, the Flames have given Markstrom the first game and Vladar the second game in back-to-back sets. Of the 12 back-to-backs this season, they’ve split the starts eight times (and seven of those sets, Vladar was given the second game).
Three times Markstrom has played both games, though in one of those games he was pulled for the third period (and Vladar got the win in relief). One time Vladar played both games, but that was when Markstrom was dealing with a minor injury.
There are two things to factor in for this weekend: getting Markstrom’s swagger back, and the all-important Battle of Alberta. The Coyotes are the easier of the two opponents on paper, and putting Markstrom into a game where the players in front of him will be playing guilty after giving up some good chances to San Jose in the latter stages of Tuesday’s game seems conducive to success.
On the other hand, the Saturday game is the statement game, the bigger game. Edmonton’s fighting for their playoff lives, and Saturday night is both (a) a playoff preview and (b) a chance for the Flames to really put a dent in the Oilers’ playoff hopes. You have to believe Markstrom would be dialed-in in that kind of a hockey game.
How would you split up the starts on Friday and Saturday night? Let us know in the comments!
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