Calgary Flames: The bottom-six need to start producing

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25: Sam Bennett
ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25: Sam Bennett /

So far this season, the Calgary Flames have barely had any help from their bottom-six players when it comes to offensive. That needs to change.

The Calgary Flames so far this season aren’t doing that bad. They’re not doing great, but it could be worse. They’re tied in fourth place for points in the Western Conference with 14 points – tying with six other teams.

While they’re not doing that bad and they’re currently over 0.500, they’re not producing a whole lot. In fact, they have the worst goals-for in the league with just 29 goals. Putting them at a mere 2.23 GF/GP – again, the worst in the league. It helps that they haven’t allowed a whole lot of goals either – allowing only 34 (2.62 GA/GP – sixth best in the league), but their goal differential is still in the negatives.

A factor in this offensive downfall is the Flames’ bottom-six guys. Their third and fourth line are simply not producing. The only player out of the bottom-six to have a goal is Kris Versteeg – who has two (Micheal Ferland is left off this since he’s been on that top line since Jaromir Jagr’s been injured).

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

Four players don’t even have a single point.

Last season at this point, the only player who didn’t have a point by November 4th was Freddie Hamilton, and he had only played in two games, so it’s not even justified to include him in the results. And at this point last season, the Calgary Flames had 34 goals-for with one less game played, which put them tied for fifth place in that stat. They were 5-6-1 at this point last season which put them in third place in the Pacific Division.

Last season, the only player part of the bottom-six who didn’t have a goal this far into the season was Lance Bouma and we all saw his fate with the team this off-season.

Johnny Gaudreau currently has the highest percentage of points on team goals in the NHL at 55.2%. It helps that he has 16 points in 13 games. But it’s still simply unacceptable from the others. Keep in mind, this isn’t me saying anything about bad about Johnny Gaudreau or the Flames’ top two lines who have been exactly what you could hope for from your top two lines.

If we look at teams who are dominating in the offensive categories and look at their bottom-six guys, we see a difference. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who lead with 54 goals, has just one player in their bottom-six who doesn’t have a point, which is Gabriel Dumont. He’s also played in just six games. The second highest GF, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have just Kasperi Kapanen who doesn’t have a point. And he’s only played in two games. Both of those teams are currently in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. And a reason is that they’re getting that secondary scoring.

On the Calgary Flames, players like Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar need to start producing. And don’t get me wrong, Bennett has definitely had chances. But at the end of the day, those chances mean nothing if you’re not showing up on the scoresheet.

Related Story: What's going on with Sam Bennett?

Like I said, he’s had chances. Out of all the bottom-six players, the team has had the most amount of scoring chances at 5v5 with him on the ice at 61 scoring chances. They’ve also had the most amount of shot-attempts with him on the ice (out of bottom-six players) with 136. Sam Bennett himself has had 25 shot-attempts and a mere 13 shots on goal. All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. When you’re averaging only one shot per game and less than two shot attempts per game, you’re not going to score goals.

The Calgary Flames have already shuffled around their bottom-six lines a little bit, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Some people have suggested bringing up Andrew Mangiapane, who is heating it up down in Stockton.

Mangiapane is leading all skaters in the AHL in points and he could be a solution.

Via Calgary Sun:

"“He’s motivated,” said Heat head coach Ryan Huska, who put Garnet Hathaway and Mark Jankowski with Mangiapane midway through last season, helping him score 20 goals as an AHL rookie.“I think it’s a little bit of him picking up where he left off last year, but it’s also because he has more confidence and swagger. He has the belief he can continue to push and get a call-up to get the next level.”"

After this off-season, Mangiapane definitely feels more confident too.

"“I put in a lot of work this summer and got better every day – it’s paying off,” said Mangiapane, who Huska says is one of the team’s biggest gym rats.“Last year as a rookie, I won’t say I had low confidence, but I was learning how to live my by myself and away from home, and I was adjusting to the speed and the game. Now I’m used to it and know what to expect.“This year, I’m more confident, I know the system and the guys, and I’m being myself.”"

The only problem is who the Calgary Flames are going to waive and send down. If it comes down to it, it would most likely be Tanner Glass. He’s been spending his time split between the press-box and the ice. He and Mangiapane are both LW as well.

But that’s only if they decide to bring up some help with secondary scoring. Bringing up a player like Mangiapane just to put him on the fourth line with limited minutes isn’t always ideal. It’ll be hard for a player to develop into their full potential that way.

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But we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the bottom-six need to get out of their funk.