Calgary Flames

Sunday Census: Potential call-ups and ending the slow start

Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!

The Flames have been in cap jail since the start of the season. Yes, Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane signing for what is probably below market value for each player helped, but if there were any injuries along the way, the team would be in a sticky situation.

Well, with Austin Czarnik on the injured reserve, that sticky situation is where we see ourselves right now. It prompted the Flames to waive Tobias Rieder, just days after he scored his first goal in two seasons, and prompted our first poll of the week.

Knowing now that Rieder was not sent down to the Heat and that him hitting the waiver wire was likely just a flexibility move for the team, it doesn’t look like there will be any call-ups from the Heat any time soon. However, it was interesting to see Dillon Dube, the standout on the team last year and easily the most NHL-ready prospect in the organization, received 75% of the vote.

It’s a bit of a moot point now with Dube injured, but he’s not off to what most hoped would be a blazing start in the AHL. He’s currently seventh in team scoring, eighth in points per game, and has just one goal through nine games. This is a far cry from the point per game player we saw last season, and it doesn’t help that Dube’s on the shelf. There were high hopes for him this season, but Alan Quine hasn’t just been better than him at the AHL level, but he’s done a decent job at the NHL level as well.

Perhaps Dube will get back to his dominant self once he’s back from injury, but players like Glenn Gawdin and Matthew Phillips are quickly rising up the depth charts in the organization and it’s a very realistic possibility that they earn call-ups this season. It’s nice to have a few prospects pushing hard for a promotion.

We wake up on this nice Sunday morning with the Flames holding a two game winning streak, and looking a lot more like the team that won the West last season. Still, they haven’t been nearly as consistent as they need to be going forward, and have really struggled to score goals the same way they did a year ago.

The number one reason that respondents pointed to for the Flames’ slow start was simply that their players weren’t performing at the level they needed to. To a certain extent, this is absolutely true. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan not scoring at even a 20 goal pace is very unlike them; they combined for 70 goals last year.

Other than Elias Lindholm and David Rittich, a lot of fans didn’t feel like the Flames’ top players were playing like they were the team’s top players. Perhaps after the last few games Tkachuk has had, and Mark Giordano operating at a 55 point pace will change a few minds, but it might not be entirely fair to place the blame at the feet of just a select few players.

The team as a whole has really not looked in sync. They have struggled to play full 60 minute games, have seemed to play down to their competition, and have received next to no help from the bottom-six. It’s been tough to watch some nights with all the penalties, turnover, and general lapses in judgement in all three zones.

The other selections in this poll have definitely played a part in the slow start as well. The Flames have been fighting to get bounces, Bill Peters has made some really weird line combination choices, and let’s not even talk about how nice it would be to have 12 goals from James Neal this year.

At the end of the day though, the team needs to find a way to get back to the way they played most of last season. Hopefully, after an incredible comeback led by Tkachuk against Nashville earlier in the week, and a huge shutout victory over Columbus last night, the Flames’ are back on track.

Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.

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