Calgary Flames: Three Reasons They Could Win The Pacific Division

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 7: Teammates of the Calgary Flames acknowledge the crowd after an NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 7, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - APRIL 7: Teammates of the Calgary Flames acknowledge the crowd after an NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 7, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Calgary Flames should be considered one of the favorites to win the Pacific Division this year and this is why.

Calgary Flames fans were undoubtedly disappointed in the way this past year went. I know I certainly was. A year after making the playoffs, the Flames sputtered to an 84 point season. Injuries, lack of chemistry, and scoring problems made it a very long season. This season brings new beginnings and new hopes. Don’t look now, but the Flames are a team to watch in 2018-2019 and here are the three main reasons why.

1. Scoring Depth –

The Calgary Flames had one of the busiest off-seasons in the NHL. It seems that the main goal for Brad Treliving was to help an offense that struggled to score beyond their top six last year. Sean Monahan was on pace for 34 goals and Matthew Tkachuk was on pace for 29 goals, had their seasons not been cut short due to injuries. Johnny Gaudreau was streaky at times, but overall their most consistent forward. Outside of these three, the Flames were mostly stagnant offensively. Monahan and Gaudreau were the only two skaters to surpass the 50 point mark. It’s tough to win with numbers like that.

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To help with this problem, the Flames brought in James Neal, Elias Lindholm, Austin Czarnik, and Derek Ryan. Despite where these forwards play in the lineup, the Flames have added a lot of quality forwards to their group. James Neal has never scored under 20 goals in his career, lighting the lamp 25 times last season. Lindholm is coming off of a 44 point season, while Derek Ryan had a career-best 38 point year. All of these guys will help to add that secondary scoring that the Flames so desperately needed last year.

With the added forward depth and the positional versatility of these forwards, new coach Bill Peters will have a lot of options at his disposal. Finding the right combinations will be key, which you can read more about here.

2. Continued Growth –

The core of the Calgary Flames is very young. There are a lot of guys that have been growing over the last couple of seasons and many more that we can expect to continue to get better. Matt Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin, Spencer Foo, Sean Monahan, Mark Jankowski, Brett Kulak, Austin Czarnik, and Sam Bennett are all 25 years old or younger. There is a lot of potential in that list. And that’s just those on the active roster. If even just a couple of those names takes a step forward this year, the Flames will have even more depth.

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I think it is safe to say that some of those guys will continue to develop, while others will still take some time to develop. I for one really liked what I saw from Tkachuk and Jankowski last year. I think they will both have a big year for Calgary. The Flames do not need all of these guys to step up to compete. It is exciting to have such a young group on the team for the foreseeable future.

3. Special Teams Improvements –

I know, I know, this probably doesn’t seem important enough to be on here. But, looking at the additions to the team, one thing that sticks out is the good puck possession numbers these new guys have. Special teams all starts with getting possession of the puck. Looking at the options down the middle and their face-off success rate shows you just how good the Calgary Flames could be at getting control off the draw. So, let’s take a look at those guys who took at least 200 face-offs last year, stats per

As you can see, the Flames have some good center icemen who can win the important face-offs on this team. Adding Derek Ryan to the penalty kill will pay huge dividends for this team. The Flames penalty kill was very good last year, finishing eighth in the league at 81.78%. Derek Ryan and Elias Lindholm are great additions to the penalty kill. Expect plenty more shorthanded goals this coming season.

Calgary had the 29th best power play in the league last year. AKA they had the third worst, ahead of only the Blues and the rival Oilers. One would think that things will only improve with the additions of sniper Flames Neal and the creative Lindholm. Noah Hanifin played on the Hurricanes power play unit last year and did a good job quarterbacking it. Expect him to be the point man on the second unit this year. The power play will be better. The question will be by how much. To compare, Bill Peters‘s Hurricanes finished 22nd in the league last year, with fewer weapons at his disposal.

Iggy is hanging up his skates. dark. Next

Expectations should be fairly high going into this season. It may take some time for the Flames to get going with a new coach and a slew of new players, but when they do get their chemistry down there is no reason why this team can’t be in the race for the division.. Watch out Vegas.