The Calgary Flames have gotten off to a great start this season. Currently 4–1–0 and with all four wins coming against premier Stanley Cup contenders, the Flames look like an absolute wagon early on.
The Nazem Kadri line has gotten the lion’s share of praise so far, but the Flames’ gritty fourth line has been one of the best stories.
Lucic’s sparking the Flames’ fourth line
Featuring grinders Milan Lucic, Kevin Rooney, and Brett Ritchie, this unlikely trio has been instrumental in the team’s hot start. Leading the charge is none other than 34-year-old bull, Lucic, who in his 16th NHL season is defying the odds once again to be an effective NHL forward.
You can always count on Lucic to deliver big hits, like this one:
But, he’s done so much more than that this season so far. He’s added some unexpected speed to his game, and protects the puck extremely well in all three zones. His vision has created quality scoring chances for his line mates, most notably his excellent pass to Brett Ritchie who scored against the Colorado Avalanche in the season opener.
And this one against the Edmonton Oilers, where Lucic does his job as a winger on an offensive faceoff win, opening up time and space for Michael Stone to get a shot on net that gives the Flames the lead.
It’s been fascinating to watch Lucic have a solid season, just months after rumours of trades and retirement were swirling around.
Lucic’s stats so far in 2022–23
You can always count on Lucic to up the energy of the team, and he has fit in marvelously on a ridiculously talented Flames team. His line did admittedly struggle mightily against the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, both speedy transition teams, but even on an advanced stats level, Lucic was dominant against the Avalanche, Oilers, and Vegas Golden Knights.
The table below shows Lucic’s per-game stats from 5v5, via NaturalStatTrick.com.
|Vegas Golden Knights||10:06||65.00||87.50||–||60.86||–|
The fact of the matter is: Lucic can be effective at the NHL level with the correct deployment, and he remains an asset to this team.
Loving what Lucic brings
And, with contributions like this, how can you not just love having him don a Flames sweater every night?
Lucic brings it every single shift for about 10 minutes per night, and he clearly has lots left in the tank.