We are now more than a quarter of the way through the Calgary Flames’ 2022–23 season. Things started out strong through the first eight-game segment, but the team trailed off through Games 9 to 16. Now, the Flames are swimming in mediocrity, having a record of 11–10–3 through 24 games. We will take a deeper look into the latest eight-game segment, in which this Flames team went 4–3–1. This was definitely better than the 2–4–2 record from the previous segment, but is still probably not where the team wants to be.
Note: All of the CF%, xGF%, SCF%, and HDCF% data is courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com.
Game Seventeen (Calgary @ Florida)
We start off this eight-game segment with Huberdeau and Weegar returning to Florida. In this one, Florida actually outplayed Calgary, but Calgary came out with the win in a shootout. Neither goalie did much goaltending tonight, which is why the score was so high. A very rough game from the Hanifin – Andersson pairing, who need to improve their game to around where it was last year. Lucic was placed back on the fourth line, and the forward lines seemed to click a bit more than they were previously.
Game Eighteen (Calgary @ Philadelphia)
The Flames followed up their shootout win over Florida with a dominating win over a struggling Flyers team. The Huberdeau -Backlund – Coleman line was incredible, and that’s probably understating it. They put up a 97.23 xGF% rate together, coupled with a 100.00 SCF% and 100.00 HDCF%, which is insane. The Zadorov – Weegar pairing was also great, posting a 92.78 xGF% rate. The top line struggled.
Game Nineteen (Calgary @ Pittsburgh)
Game 19 was a complete reversal from Game 18. The Flames were outplayed by the Penguins, but did get a point in the shootout loss. How did they manage to get all the way to a shootout? Dan Vladar was incredible, saving 2.77 goals above expected! The entire Flames team was mediocre, no one was really impressive, besides the fourth lines 70.65 xGF% rate. Ultimately, Dan Vladar got them a point in a game they didn’t deserve to.
Game Twenty (Calgary @ Washington)
In Game 20, the Flames played fairly well, but Darcy Kuemper played great, saving 3.00 goals above expected. Really solid game from the Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman line, and Zadorov – Weegar pairing. Forward lines were shuffled throughout the game, as Sutter switched Adam Ruzicka and Trevor Lewis. Probably a game where the Flames have a good shot at winning based on their play, but they ended up losing 3–0 due to goaltending.
Game Twenty-One (Calgary @ Carolina)
The final game of this long road trip saw the Flames taking on the Hurricanes. This game was a lot closer than it should have been, in large part due to Dan Vladar saving 1.6 goals above expected. It’s starting to sound repetitive, but he really has given the Flames more reliable goaltending.
The only line that had some redeeming qualities was the Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman line. Everyone else did not play well, particularly the second line, fourth line, and top defence pairing. This game was a lot closer than it should have been, and is one the Flames should try and forget.
Game Twenty-Two (Florida @ Calgary)
Game 22 sees Matthew Tkachuk return to the Saddledome, and Huberdeau and Weegar play their former team once again. Jonathan Huberdeau was placed back on the top line, where he started the season. Ruzicka goes from the top line to the third line.
This game was played pretty evenly, but the Flames won 6–2. Why? Sergei Bobrovsky had a terribly off-night, allowing 2.75 Goals Above Expected. A very strong game from the second and fourth lines, along with the top pairing. The third line and bottom pairing struggled. Vladar had another above average performance.
Game Twenty-Three (Montreal @ Calgary)
This was a well played game from the Flames, but Jake Allen played well and got the Canadiens a win. Markstrom charged out of the net in the first fifteen seconds of the game, allowing Slafkovsky to get a free goal. Strong games from the top and third lines, as well as the second and third defence pairings. The fourth line struggled, and was benched.
Game Twenty-Four (Washington @ Calgary)
The final game of this eight game segment, which saw the Flames beat a struggling Capitals team. The Flames played a very solid game, and were rewarded with a 5–2 win. Strong games from the third line, and top two pairings. Adam Ruzicka and Mikael Backlund both had three-point games.
Flames forward lines summarized
|Mangiapane – Kadri – Dube||161:58||52.35%||46.07%||46.25%||44.91%|
|Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli||112:16||56.14%||56.93%||55.87%||61.49%|
|Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli||81:48||60.35%||57.71%||62.22%||53.92%|
|Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie||81:19||46.65%||42.85%||43.81%||42.35%|
|Coleman – Backlund – Lewis||80:28||60.68%||53.52%||51.41%||43.77%|
|Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman||54:51||55.61%||61.94%||56.12%||64.99%|
|Ruzicka – Backlund – Coleman||29:42||63.27%||56.04%||65.77%||69.99%|
We’ve seen quite a few combinations with the forward group, leading to mixed results. The Mangiapane – Kadri – Dube has played the most minutes together, but have posted subpar results. The team might want to explore changing this line up.
Lindholm and Toffoli have played well with whoever has been on their line, be it Huberdeau or Ruzicka.
The fourth line has been… what we’ve come to expect, with whatever combination of Lucic, Rooney, Lewis, and Ritchie they decide to play that night.
Backlund and Coleman have formed a great duo and have posted great results with whoever has been paired with them.
Flames defence pairings summarized
|Hanifin – Andersson||336:45||48.30%||49.10%||47.11%||49.08%|
|Weegar – Tanev||186:58||58.33%||60.19%||58.42%||62.60%|
|Zadorov – Weegar||166:16||64.65%||55.85%||56.02%||49.89%|
|Zadorov – Stone||132:46||60.19%||56.94%||51.07%||60.28%|
The defence has been quite solid, with only the Hanifin – Andersson pairing needing to improve. Weegar – Tanev and Zadorov – Stone has been among the top defence pairings in the entire league. This is definitely not a major area of concern for the team.
Flames goaltending summarized
Dan Vladar seems like the Flames starter right now, especially after Markstrom’s comments earlier this week. However, the goals saved above expected (GSAx) is a lot closer than you think. MoneyPuck.com has Markstrom listed at -0.1 GSAx, while Dan Vladar is listed at 0.7 GSAx. With that, Vladar ranks 35th out of 75 goalies, while Markstrom ranks 41st out of 75. Vladar has been the better goaltender, but it’s closer than I anticipated.
Turning things around
The Flames need to turn their game around immediately. It’s imperative that results start showing up on the scoresheet and not just by merits of “deserving to win” based on on-ice play. Yes, on the long-term a team like the Flames should be winning more, but looking at game-over-game results, they’re not consistent quite yet. Here’s to a better set of eight games ahead.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire
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