The Calgary Flames just finished Game 50 against the Seattle Kraken, and head into the NHL All-Star break with an overall record of 24–17–9. With that record, they currently sit outside a playoff spot by both points and points percentage. The West is going to be a dog fight for playoff spots, as no one besides maybe the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets are playoff locks.
Note: We usually do eight game recaps, but this recap will consist of ten games, as we head into All-Star break. We will continue with our eight game recaps after this.
The Flames had an overall record of 5–3–2 in this ten game segment we are going to cover, which ranks among the best performances from the club to date. More is still expected from this club, but it is nice to see two segments of above average performance:
Flames game segments
Game 41 (Calgary @ Chicago)
We start with Game 41, where the Flames are beaten by a very poor Chicago Blackhawks team in overtime. Jacob Markstrom played rough, and was replaced by Dan Vladar. The tandem allowed 1.51 Goals Above Expected. The second and third lines played great, as did the Weegar-Tanev pairing.
Game 42 (Calgary @ St Louis)
The second straight overtime loss in a row, this time to a struggling St. Louis Blues team. The Lindholm line and Weegar-Tanev pairing struggled a lot. Good games from the Backlund line and the top pair. Markstrom struggled one again, allowing 1.62 Goals Above Expected.
Game 43 (Calgary @ St Louis)
In the second game in a row against the Blues, the Flames played a commanding game, and came away with the win. Very strong games from both the Lindholm line and Weegar-Tanev pairing. Dan Vladar played fantastic, saving 1.54 Goals Above Expected.
Game 44 (Calgary @ Dallas)
This is up there for the wildest game of the Flames season thus far. The Flames played a great 40 minutes, and came out with a commanding 6–2 lead. But, they took their foot off the gas, and allowed the Stars to score three goals in the third, coming within one goal of tying the Flames. Very rough game from Vladar’s standpoint, as he allowed 2.75 Goals Above Expected. Strong games from most of the defence, but some of the forward lines struggled, particularly the Kadri line.
Game 45 (Calgary @ Nashville)
This was a rough one. Markstrom was solid, saving 1.43 Goals Above Expected. Unfortunately for him, everyone else on the team decided to take a night off. Not a single line or pairing ranked above average, and the Flames got absolutely caved in. Burn the tapes on this one. High danger chances were 15–4 in favour of the Predators.
Game 46 (Colorado @ Calgary)
The Flames returned home from their road trip, and put forth a lackluster effort against the Avalanche. They got off to an extremely rough start against and were down 3–0 after the 1st period. The top line and third line struggled massively, while the second line and fourth line played quite well.
Game 47 (Calgary @ Tampa Bay)
The long awaited debut of Jakob Pelletier finally happens, and him and his line looked great. The Flames put forth a great effort against a very good Lightning team, and a lot of people played great. The second line and third pairings were really the only ones to not stand out.
Game 48 (Columbus @ Calgary)
Johnny Gaudreau returns to the Saddledome—to a chorus of boos and cheers, but mostly boos. Vladar struggled, which allowed the Blue Jackets to bring this game to overtime. The Flames do get the win, but it was closer than a lot of people would have expected. Strong games from pretty much everyone, with the exception of the first line. Chris Tanev went down with injury, so the Flames defence, namely Nikita Zadorov, had to step up in his absence.
Game 49 (Chicago @ Calgary)
Pelletier continues to cement himself into this Flames roster, and earns a ton of ice time. The forward lines are switched up, and Connor Mackey comes in for the injured Tanev. This was a rough one, as the Flames got demolished by the tanking Blackhawks 5–1. No one was particularly great, which is quite embarrassing when you play one of the worst teams in the league.
Game 50 (Calgary @ Seattle)
The last game of our segment, a dominating win over the Kraken, who the Flames are chasing in the standings. New forward lines were tried, and we get to see Pelletier on the second line, and Lucic on the fourth! Dennis Gilbert comes in replacement of Connor Mackey. Vladar was great, saving 1.25 Goals Above Expected. Really strong games from the newly created second line, and the Gilbert-Stone pairing.
Forward Lines Summarized
Note: bolded lines are the lines that are currently in use, or were used in the last game played
|Mangiapane – Kadri – Dube||222:46||52.52%||46.70%||47.09%||43.67%|
|Dube – Lindholm – Toffoli||200:07||53.63%||49.75%||52.97%||45.25%|
|Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman||187:07||66.68%||68.44%||66.47%||72.90%|
|Lucic – Kadri – Huberdeau||176:24||53.56%||52.30%||50.67%||42.15%|
|Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli||154:55||54.34%||53.21%||51.10%||53.60%|
|Coleman – Backlund – Lewis||83:27||59.30%||51.22%||48.64%||39.66%|
|Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli||81:48||60.35%||66.17%||57.71%||62.22%|
|Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie||81:19||46.65%||42.85%||43.81%||42.35%|
|Ruzicka – Backlund – Coleman||78:37||59.89%||58.21%||57.97%||57.83%|
|Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman||54:51||55.61%||61.94%||56.12%||64.99%|
|Ruzicka – Lewis – Ritchie||46:31||57.59%||55.25%||50.85%||42.17%|
|Huberdeau – Kadri – Mangiapane||40:51||48.05%||34.75%||37.24%||26.06%|
|Pelletier – Kadri – Huberdeau||14:33||62.62%||80.04%||83.61%||85.64%|
Some of the forward lines finally switched up, but the first and third lines have remained the same. The Dube-Lindholm-Toffoli line took a step back, so maybe a change should be considered there?
Never break up the Mangiapane-Backlund-Coleman line, ever. Their numbers are absolutely amazing, with the lowest metric being their SCF% at a whopping 66.47%. Of lines that have played at least 160 minutes together, the Mangiapane-Backlund-Coleman ranks as the NHL’s best. This is just beautiful stuff.
The Pelletier-Kadri-Huberdeau line has really good metrics in the one game they’ve played together. Obviously we won’t take much from a one game sample size, but it’s good to see. I’m glad Lucic is back playing on the fourth line, which is the perfect role for him. Whether it be Pelletier staying on that second line, internally, or externally, I think it’s best if the top-six Lucic experiment ends here.
Defence Pairs Summarized
|Hanifin – Andersson||735:01||52:03%||54.66%||51.43%||53.45%|
|Weegar – Tanev||472:30||58.77%||56.74%||55.76%||53.75%|
|Zadorov – Stone||342:07||56.88%||51.65%||51.11%||51.16%|
|Zadorov – Weegar||275:57||61.67%||55.42%||56.10%||45.01%|
|Zadorov – Andersson||85:26||55.17%||52.66%||53.74%||53.92%|
|Zadorov – Tanev||77:47||61.45%||63.26%||63.78%||56.74%|
|Mackey – Stone||58:19||57.37%||47.50%||48.69%||51.93%|
A couple things stand out when looking at the defence. First, the Hanifin-Andersson pairing continues to improve their metrics after every single segment, which is great to see.
The Weegar-Tanev pairing continues to be an outstanding pairing, although the HDCF% number has taken a bit of a dip compared to last segment. Nikita Zadorov is a positive with whoever he plays with, as he continues his outstanding 2022–23 season.
It’s pretty clear who the better goaltender is for this Flames team. Vladar currently has a point streak going where he’s gone 10–0–3. That is legendary stuff. His record is better, is GSAA is better, and his SV% is better. Markstrom needs to find his game, as he’s gone 0–3–2 in his last five starts. This will be a storyline to watch through the last 32 games.
The Flames will have to fight tooth and nail to make the playoffs. We have seen improvements in the last two segments, so hopefully that keeps up in the last 32 games of the 2022–23 season. This team can’t really be categorized this season. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t good either.
Will that change in the final four segments of games, or will the Flames continue their mediocre pace? We will certainly find out in the months ahead, and into the led up to the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline.
And finally, it was nice to see both Duehr and Pelletier get into some recent games, they brought speed into this lineup which we haven’t seen all year.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire