The Calgary Flames have had a November to forget. After starting the season well it’s been a solid face-plant into the ice since. Over 15 games in November the Flames have managed 5 wins and 4 of those in regulation. It was 4 wins in 14 games until last night against Florida. What’s the problem? Everything.
Markstrom hasn’t been good with Dan Vladar picking up more starts.
Not good. top pairings are not good and not putting up points. The D as a whole has had a huge slew of injuries with Stone, Tanev ,and Mackey coming out of the lineup for extended periods of time. That has meant Calgary’s dipped into D man 10 and 11 (Kylington out, Stone out, Mackey out, Valimaki lost for nothing to waivers (great GM work there)).
Hard and nonexistent. That along with the PP. Huberdeau as of late is coming back online and finally returned to the ‘topline’ against Florida. He’s been putting up 15 minutes worth of ice-time, which is ridiculous playing time given his skill. Skill is of course something the Flames need more of in the lineup. And although the likes of Adam Ruzicka have outperformed during the month slump, you can’t rely on him to continue his pace. You need the likes of Mangiapane to wake up and start producing. You need consistency from top to bottom, but starting at that top. Lindholm, Kadri, Huberdeau for sure, Mangiapane definitely, Coleman, all under performing in big ways. And then there’s the 4th line…….whew, what a trash heap.
Nothing from the coaching staff. Sutter is putting out the exact same line up for the entire month (apart from shuffling the D pairings).
OK, maybe Rooney came out of the lineup, we won’t miss his 1 assist, but after that? No changes. Sutter is known to have ‘his guys’ preset and is slow to have young players enter ‘the system’ because they don’t ‘play the right way’. I get the notion the league is so tight that rookie mistakes break games. But they can’t be worse off than what the 4th line is consistently producing–nothing.
Right now, the AHL player of the week is none other than Wranglers’ Matt Phillips who’s on a tear in the A. Problem? Sutter. Why? He’s too small (Phillips that is). I’m willing to bet Phillips could put up 1000 pts in the AHL and Sutter would still scoff.
Who would come out of the lineup instead? One of Ritchie, lewis, or today’s latest whipping boy, Lucic. Stone Hands Lucic has punched one to many helmets in his day. He can barely hold a stick let alone skate up ice with the puck. His stats are abysmal. Given Calgary’s unwillingness to play a 4th line of skill and speed (and youth), and instead opt for washed out vets in their mid 30s, (see FlamesNation on this) you get a better picture why they’re under .500.
Mike Gould with a Twitter thread on Lucic.
Apropos of nothing, Milan Lucic hasn’t been a healthy scratch since April 2013. Almost 10 years ago.
He has a 5v5 xGF% of 8.87 today. The Flames have been crushed with him on the ice all season long. It’s difficult to see any justification for the coaching staff keeping him in.
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) November 25, 2022
The Flames as an organization do not develop players from within with any level of consistency. Right now they are the only team with no player in the lineup from draft 2018 onward. Mike Gould with more,
Even if the #Flames make a personnel shake-up, don’t count on them bringing up one of their own draft picks.
They’re the only team in the NHL not to graduate any of their selections from the last five drafts.
Since 2018? Zero games.https://t.co/F0bgAaadwr
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) November 28, 2022
December will be the make or break month for the Flames. The standings are still tight and there’s time to make up ground in the standings. It will take a full lineup and a 4th line that will produce. It will take the D tightening up and for goaltending to find a groove. it will take new energy and blood in the lineup to make Calgary an effective FOUR line team up front, and a dominant team in the back. That’s what we hoped for at season’s start, and it’s not remotely what we’re seeing right now.