The Calgary Flames are unbeaten in 2018! Which is to say they’ve won two in a row. Stringing together wins is something this team has been unable to accomplish since the season started. It’s why they’re out of a playoff spot and only have a chance of grabbing a Wild Card spot if they starting playing .600+ hockey. But thus far, the season has been a disappointment. It seems, management is finally running out of patience.
The changes are coming rapid as a result of the on-ice product. Here are past and present updates on personnel shifts.
- It was known early that the squad lacked depth on the RW. That’s why the signed Jaromir Jagr late. He worked out to start, but then injuries mounted which has kept him out of the lineup more than he’s been in. Add in Garnett Hathaway’s play on the 3rd line RW, and Jagr suddenly finds himself on the 4th line if he can even make it into the lineup.
- The first quarter saw the ‘best defence on paper’ struggle. Lately the goals against and chances are down. That’s great, but the team needs to turn it around on offence too. A lot of people have talked about how ‘unlucky’ the Flames are, but the reality is, we’re half way through the season and time is running out for the luck to average out.
- Rather than fire the coach, the team is looking internally, albeit it’s taken half a season to do so. The third line now boasts Hathaway and Jankowski, the latter the biggest welcomed surprise of the season. Mangiapane was recently called up to fill in for injured Frolik. Hrivik was called up and should see some time as well. Freddie Hamilton’s saga as Dougie’s bag boy (I joke) is over, as he was claimed on waivers by Arizona.
- The backup goalie situation seems to be solved with Rittich in net. He’s been solid, producing points in every start. He’ll need to carry more of the load down the stretch.
- That still leaves a lot of deadweight, particularly the entire 4th line (and I’ll include Jagr there). Stajan has one point this season. Brouwer is passable at times, but he’s the whipping boy because of his gigantic contract. Lazar is another underperformer, but he’s getting chances because his price tag was high and management doesn’t want to look stupid.
- If the Flames push, they have to figure out their PP. This is where a Jagr could help. It’s taken half the season to finally play the top players on the first unit, but it’s still struggling. 5v5 play is usually OK, but the PP is a nightmare that needs to produce if the team is going to make waves.
- Lastly, identity plagues this team, as in, there isn’t one. Every single home start is slow. They get pushed around by bigger teams, and fall silent when they face adversity. 60 minute games are something we rarely see, especially noticeable for those long nights when the top line goes quiet (like the month of December). The lack of size and ‘trucuclence’ probably doesn’t help things. I can see pieces of it starting to form but not in the way you might think. The likes of Tkachuk and Hathaway are making daily statements to stand tall. Good signs for the future, but what’s needed today are wins, and we await the average Calgary Flames with half a season left to make a statement.