The Calgary Flames may have lost the final Battle of Alberta last night to the Edmonton Oilers, but they came away with a massive win of their own. Just two short months ago, the Flames were under siege from what seemed like the entire Oilers fanbase due to their decision to start backup goalie Dan Vladar in the season’s first instalment of the Battle of Alberta
Now, the tables have completely turned, with the Oilers unable to rely on their pricy new starting goalie in Jack Campbell, and are instead turning to rookie netminder Stuart Skinner to tend their pipes. God forbid Flames fans said anything about that, though.
Goalie politics aside, the big win the Flames took away from the game last night was the mojo of their elite starting goalie, Jacob Markstrom.
It’s no secret that Markstrom, despite being one of the most talented, reliable, and well rounded goalies on the planet, has struggled mightily against his provincial rivals. Last year’s quick playoff exit to the Oilers only happened because Markstrom failed to find his game against the uber talented Oilers squad. Now, Markstrom has slayed those demons and has started off his second half of the 2022–23 season on a high note.
Getting Markstrom’s mojo back was the top priority for the Flames after the winter break. Vladar has provided exceptional goaltending when called upon this season, but everyone knows that to succeed in today’s NHL, you need your top players—and highest paid players—to perform at a high level.
This is still an issue for the Oilers, but not for the Flames anymore.
Markstrom’s performance at 5v5
The Flames played a dominant game, but couldn’t solve Skinner in last night’s game. It happens. But, Markstrom vastly outperformed his season averages in the game, and has been for the past little while. That’s what will matter in the long run.
|vs Oilers Dec 27||0.938||1.000||1.000|
|Last 5 games||0.909||0.925||0.889|
At 5v5, Markstrom’s overall season average save percentage is .903—not up to his standards at all. Last season he posted a .928, and over the past five seasons his average is .923.
However, in last night’s game, he put up a sensational .938, and in the past five games, his 5v5 save percentage has risen to an average of .909. It marks significant progress in the right direction at the most important game state.
This trend is magnified when looking at scoring chances and high-danger chances, too, which is even more impressive.
Markstrom didn’t let in a goal on a single scoring chance or high-danger chance the Oilers had at 5v5. In the past five games, his save percentage for these types of shots is up to .925 and .899 respectively—quite the positive trend.
Markstrom’s performance in all situations
Looking at all situations, the same trends exist for both critical danger levels.
|vs Oilers Dec 27||0.909||0.952||1.000|
|Last 5 games||0.885||0.913||0.897|
Markstrom may have seen his overall save percentage dip below his season average in the past five games, but that’s purely due to the ugly loss to the St. Louis Blues where the entire Flames team chose to not show up for the contest. Take that out, and Markstrom’s save percentage swells to .908, significantly higher than his season average and trending upwards. His .909 against the Oilers was a great step forward.
He also allowed just one goal on a scoring chance, finishing with a sparkling .952 save percentage on scoring chances. Over the past five games, he’s stopping scoring chances at a rate of .913, once again higher than his season average. The same goes for high-danger chances: he stopped every single high-danger chance the Oilers had last night, and is operating at a .987 clip over the past five games. Compared to his season average of .887, this is a significant improvement.
Good things to come
Jacob Markstrom is back. And, with how well Vladar has played this season, the Flames once again have one of the best tandems in the NHL. Slaying his demons with a phenomenal performance against the Oilers was exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s a big personal win for Markstrom despite not getting the team win, and sets the Flames on the right path for the rest of the season.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire