2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Iwona Erskine-Kellie

Calgary Flames face woes in early season

By David Song, November 22 2016 —

As of Nov. 22, the Calgary Flames hold a disappointing 8–10–1 record, sloshing around in the Pacific Division’s basement alongside the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes. Adding insult to injury, star forward Johnny Gaudreau suffered a broken finger on Nov. 15 and could miss several weeks. A season
removed from their unexpected playoff run in 2015, the Flames continue to regress despite the addition of former first-round draft pick Matthew Tkachuk and veteran goaltender Brian Elliott.

Why is Calgary floundering, despite the talented pieces on their roster? One indication may be their special teams performance. Currently, the Flames’ power play ranks third-last in the NHL, with a paltry 10.2 per cent success rate. Their penalty killing 73.8 per cent is second-last. Special teams was a key weakness last year and things have
not gotten any better. Calgary’s inept penalty kill is especially problematic given they are tied for eighth in the league when it comes to total penalty minutes accumulated.

Another reason for the Flames’ early season woes is the inadequate performance from some of their key players. Elliott, formerly the St. Louis Blues’ number one option in net, had a ghastly start, owning a 3.36 goals against average and a .882 save percentage. This is a far cry from last year, when Elliott earned a 2.07 goals against average and a .930 save percentage in 42 games. Journeyman Chad Johnson has been the better netminder so far, but the Flames need Elliott to turn things around if they have any hope of making the playoffs.

Elliott cannot be the primary recipient of blame, as the highly-paid defence in front of him must also step up their game. Captain Mark Giordano has a plus/minus of -3, while Dougie Hamilton is a -9, and T.J. Brodie a team-worst -11. This means that the Flames’ best defencemen have been on the ice for a significant number of goals against, and while plus/minus is not a definitive stat by itself, it is an indication of how the blueline has struggled.

Things are not much better among the forward corps. Frontline centre Sean Monahan and Gaudreau are both at -10 and Monahan has only scored six points in 17 games. Both are mainstays on the Flames’ top line and both were handed contract extensions the past offseason. Given the amount of ice time that Monahan and Gaudreau receive, the Flames aren’t going anywhere unless they play much better against top opposition.

Firing former head coach Bob Hartley was a polarizing decision among Flames fans and so far, Glen Gulutzan has not been the answer. He has failed to improve Calgary’s mediocre special teams and his frequent lineup changes have not helped the unit build chemistry.

Unless Gulutzan and his players can improve some of these key weaknesses the Flames will face another year of postseason disappointment.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet