Calgary Flames

Flames Sunday Census: How Calgary can address their growing pains

After a loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning to open their road trip, the Flames were able to rebound and beat the Panthers in a shootout. Though the win is impressive, it’s clear to all Flames fans that there are some areas that the Flames need to improve on to get back to being clear contenders in the league. The team still seems like they are trying to figure out how to play up to their potential, so what would be the best way for the franchise to address their growing pains? We asked, you answered.

Playing the best hockey

Before their game against the Panthers, the Flames looked like they were having trouble getting quality high-danger chances onto the opposing goalie. Additionally, finishing seems like it has been a recurring issue all season long with the team. These along with the team’s constant inability to keep a lead has led fans to wonder how they can best address their issues.

Acquisition through a trade

Timo Meier would look really nice in a Flames jersey wouldn’t he? He would greatly improve the winger depth on the team and would be another elite player to add to the roster. Although, sorry if I got your hopes up, but that may not be the best path to take, at least not yet. Calgary only has around $689,000 in cap space available to them right now. It is tricky to see how they can add quality wingers to their roster with such a small amount of money available to them. This would probably be a move for the team to conduct once the trade deadline is much closer.

Line combinations

Well, I never thought the day would come, but it looks like the top-six Milan Lucic experiment has finally ended (for now). Sutter reunited the Mangiapane-Kadri-Dube line, giving fans some reassurance who knew that Lucic was not The Man for the job. I have wondered for a while now that maybe all that is needed for the team is for the players to build some chemistry with each other. Set the lines back to their normal combinations, and give it time. It seems like in a way, Sutter might be doing that when reuniting the Mangiapane-Kadri-Dube line.

Roster call ups

There is a certain player on the Flames who has been carrying the production of the team over the past six games. He is on the wing, on the team’s top line, and has logged eight points in his last six games. Now, this same player has been a consistent healthy scratch before. Anyway, his name is Adam Ruzicka, and he is proof that maybe, just maybe, the kids can actually play.

The Flames are in need of scoring wingers, and wow do they have some to choose from if they look down to the Calgary Wranglers for help. Matthew Phillips has 17 points in 14 games played, Connor Zary has 16 points in 14 games played, and Jakob Pelletier has 14 points in 13 games played.

We previously discussed the Flames looking for help through a trade, why not go through the much cheaper option of just calling one of the three up to the team (especially Pelletier or Phillips)? It’s gotten to the point where I think it is inexcusable how little of an opportunity Phillips has got and based off the poll, it doesn’t look like I am the only one who thinks this.

Players need to be better

This is an option that is tough to argue against to be honest. Jonathan Huberdeau has been underwhelming so far and it’s no secret. I would also say that he has looked better recently compared to other games, but still, he has not looked like the 115-point player that he was last year.

Nazem Kadri has also slowed down a lot compared to his incredible start to the season. Even Andrew Mangiapane can not buy a goal. The Flames’ top players have not been incredible to say the least, but I do think it is way too early to press the panic button.

Do the players need to be better? Yes. But does it take a while to get going and gel with teammates when the team goes through massive changes? Absolutely. On top of that, the slow start could also be attributed to the line combinations continuing to change recently. The production of some of the top players is concerning, but don’t sound the alarm just yet.

Something has to change

To be fair, the right answer maybe just be a combination of all four of these options. A mix of some of the options was suggested below:

It’s a great point. The Flames’ best course of action might just be a path of calling up one or two players, shifting the line combinations as a result of the call-ups, and doing so might just lead to the top players producing better. Later on, in the season, it would be much easier for the team to see what their needs come the trade deadline as they will know what the potential of the team really is. It’s tricky to look into a crystal ball and try to tell the future when assessing what will happen if they call up Phillips or Pelletier, but the worst thing that they can do is not try. So far, they haven’t.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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