Despite netting two short-handed goals in their season opener, the Calgary Flames still haven’t found a win and are 21st for penalty killing. Does this feel like last season all over again?
The Calgary Flames are currently 0-2-1 to start their season and haven’t been able to find a way to win yet. Flames fans were excited when there were two short-handed goals in the season opener, but to everyone’s dismay, a loss followed that.
After those two shorties, fans were feeling a sense of optimism. Will this team finally be successful with their special teams?
Well, the answer for that currently stands at no. Right now, the Flames stand at 22nd on the power-play with just a 10 percent success rate. They also stand at 21st on the penalty kill, with a 71.8 percent success rate.
Will This Be A Repeat Of Last Season?
The Calgary Flames currently have two short-handed goals in their season, ranking first overall in that category. I mean, the season did just start not even a week ago, but definitely something to be hopeful of as a Flames fan. Even with those two shorties, the Flames are still only 21st overall on the penalty kill, seeming very similar to last season.
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Last season, the Flames were tied for third for shorties, with 10. Now, they’re three games in and the Flames are already 20 percent of the way there. Cool.
Even with those 10 short-handed goals, the Flames ranked last place on the penalty kill, with only a 75.5 percent success rate.
A bit of a similar situation happened on the other end of the special teams. The Flames finished in 22nd place for power-play last season, with only a 17 percent success rate. Like I mentioned, the Flames currently are 22nd on the PP with a 10 percent success rate.
Is this going to be a concern for the rest of the season?
No Help From The Back
Of course, we know that last season, the Flames didn’t exactly have the best of help with their penalty kill. Now, I’m not the person that ever likes to put blame on a goaltender. I’m super anti goalie shaming, but you have to admit, sometimes a goalie just isn’t the best. Last season, the Flames goaltenders had a collective worst goals against average among all teams, with a 3.13 GAA.
Currently, Brian Elliott isn’t giving the Flames exactly what they need, but Chad Johnson has definitely stepped up his game. After playing a career-high of 45 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres, Chad Johnson was expected to be the Flames backup. Not necessarily just a backup, but Elliott was expected to start a higher percentage of the games.
Currently, Johnson is third overall for both save percentage and goals against average, racking in a 0.968 sv% and 0.92 GAA. There were some concerns for Johnson because he didn’t do too well in the preseason, but if he continues to play like this, Elliott’s got some competition. I mean, Johnson has only played one game of the season, but Glen Gulutzan told Flames media earlier today that he’s expected to start in tomorrow’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. This seems a little familiar to last season with Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Basically, if you play well, you’ll play the next game. Giving each goalie some healthy competition to keep them striving at being the best.
Elliott currently sits at 43rd place for sv% with 0.818 and is 44th for GAA with 5.07. Not the start anybody was expecting, especially after his incredible run during the preseason. Keep in mind he has only played two games and I’m sure he’ll get his groove back soon (yes I just said the word groove).
But when will that be? A week? A month? Four months? That’s definitely the main concern here. When will he get back into it?
We all saw how Dougie Hamilton had a very slow start last year and didn’t really get into his game properly until about halfway through the season. If it takes that long for Elliott this season, the Flames can say bye bye to the playoffs. Of course, that’s if Johnson loses his momentum he has right now. But considering how the past few seasons have been for the Flames, they definitely need two solid consistent goaltenders.
This goes without being said, but the Flames need to find a way to kill off their penalties more efficiently. They also (of course) need to find a way to capitalize on their power-plays. If their special teams are a repeat of last year, I can guarantee their playoffs will be too.
They just need to find a way.