The Calgary Flames lost yet again on Thursday night, dropping a 2–1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens in Sean Monahan’s return to the Saddledome.
Of course Monahan’s return, and subsequent performance, weren’t the talk of the town on Thursday night and this morning. It was yet again aimed at Jacob Markstrom, and for good reason:
After another bizarre allowed goal during the 2022-23 NHL season, Markstrom was his own biggest critic when addressing the media after his performance.
In fact, ever since the second round of last year’s playoffs Markstom has in fact sucked at hockey and the Flames were absolutely not betting on that happening again.
Markstrom’s numbers in net
The fluctuations in net for Markstrom have just been too much to handle for the team during his flames tenure:
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Markstrom has been one of the most rollercoaster goaltenders over the last three seasons. In 2020–21, he was the 49th ranked goaltender in terms of SV% with those that played more than 100 minutes. In 2021–22, he was ninth. This season, he is currently 54th out of 70 goaltenders that have played over 100 minutes. There is just no consistency.
More importantly, his GSAA has been even harder to pin down. In his first season with the Flames he was ranked 65th, then moved to third in the entire NHL last season at a whopping 26.10, and then this season currently ranks 63rd out of 70 goaltenders.
It’s just uncanny.
Most recent playoff performance
Those differences also exist at an even higher rate when looking at his playoff performance from last year:
|First Round vs DAL||7||4–3–0||0.943||1.53||5.72||0.915%|
|Second Round vs EDM||5||1–4–0||0.852%||5.12||-9.96||0.705%|
During the first round of the playoffs, Markstrom was the third best goaltender in most categories, and also held the best GAA in the NHL during the span of the Flames series with the Stars. Jake Oettinger was pretty much the only goaltender that was consistently better than Markstrom, and the Flames netminder out dueled him.
In the next round, Markstrom was last in the league in every category noted above. A complete cratering. He stopped fewer shots, allowed more goals than he should have, and was basically non existent when it was a high-danger chance.
Now of course, we have to caveat this with the fact that the Flames were without Chris Tanev for most of their series against Edmonton. This led to a higher number of overall scoring chances for the Oilers compared to what they were used to against the Stars. In this case, the volume was too much for Markstom to bail them out of.
The underlying goaltending impact on the Flames
Going into the second round, goaltending was not an issue for the Flames. It ended up being their undoing.
Just like in that second round, the Flames headed into this season not worried about their goaltending in the slightest. It’s now one of their biggest concerns.
The Flames were absolutely not expecting Jacob Markstrom to be this version of himself. I don’t think anyone truly was. Now it’s a matter of managing the damage, and maybe letting Dan Vladar run with the net for a bit longer.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to see Markstrom vilified by the fanbase—myself included—as he looked completely dejected in the post game conference. Everyone involved is hoping for a return to form, sooner than next season of course.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire