Calgary Flames need to find a way to stay out of the penalty box

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 14 2017. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 14 2017. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /

In a brand new season, it seems like the Calgary Flames are still going back to their old habits that they had last year.

The Calgary Flames through their first ten games of the season are 5-5-0. It’s not terrible, but it could definitely be better. And while this is a slightly better start to their season than last year (4-5-1), it’s still not good enough. And the Flames had a much better start in their first five games of the season than last year, but they’ve somewhat fallen since.

A problem that continues to plague them like it did for most of last season? Their discipline. The Calgary Flames inability to remain out of the penalty box has been costing them games. The one positive over last season is that their special teams are slightly better than it was last season, but it needs to be better. Especially if they can’t remain disciplined.

They’re currently tenth in the league in PIM/GP with 10:54. They’re fourth in the league in penalties with 49. And they’re fifth for minor penalties with 44. That’s averaging 4.4 minor penalties per game. While their penalty-kill isn’t horrible, it can still be better. They’re 17th in the league for their PK% at 79.5%. But something worth noting is that they’re tied for third for powerplay goals against with 9.

That goes to show that while their penalty-kill isn’t one of the last in the league, they’re taking too many penalties that they’re allowing over the average number of powerplay goals against. The good news is that head coach Glen Gulutzan has seemed to identify their penalty-killing problem.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames


"“So, two nights in a row we’ve given up two-for-three, two-for-three on the powerplay,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “When you’re playing your back-to-backs, your penalty kill has to be better. Our penalty kill, quite frankly, doesn’t look anything near what it should, and we’ve got to clean that area up. Because tonight it put us in a hole. Nashville, it put us in a hole. Tonight, we couldn’t get out of it.“The biggest issue with the penalty kill right now is our zone entries. We are not stopping people. They’re walking into our zone uncontested, setting up. And if you’re going to let somebody stay in your zone for two minutes, you can’t get a clear, but if you can’t even stop them from coming in, you’re going to get scored on. That’s just the nature of the game. I like our in-zone kill; being organized at the blueline right now and denying entires is not where it needs to be. It’s not NHL level, and we’ve got to get it there.”"

While that does help, it still doesn’t help their discipline problem. Right now, Sam Bennett has the most amount of PIM on the Calgary flames with 14 PIM and seven penalties. In his seven penalties, the opponents have scored on two of them. While he’s not on the ice to kill off the penalty so it’s not exactly his wrongdoing, those goals could have been avoided as well. Especially if Bennett hasn’t been racking up points lately and he’s not drawing lots of penalties either like Johnny Gaudreau or Matthew Tkachuk, he quite frankly doesn’t have the right to be taking all these penalties.

Next: What's going on with Sam Bennett?

If the Flames want to get back in the running, they need to stop spending so much time in the sin bin.