After a rough swing through the sunshine state, the Calgary Flames were hoping for a better showing against the Carolina Hurricanes. They did not get it. Here are my thoughts.
Man oh man, life ain’t getting any easier.
After 2 sub-optimal results against the two Florida teams, the Flames went into Raleigh looking at their last chance to return home from their Eastern road trip with at least a point. But, despite coming out strong in the first, it was not to be. Here’s what I saw.
For the third time in as many games, the Calgary Flames were outscored by 3 goals or more. This despite a significant bit of line juggling that saw Blake Coleman on the top line with Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. Additionally, Sean Monahan was promoted to the de facto second line with his old buddy Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane. There were also some defensive alterations on the power play.
As nostalgic as it was to see Gaudreau paired with Monahan again, it did little but draw attention to one of the Flames most significant barriers to success. Nobody outside the top line is scoring any goals. Mangiapane’s emergence as a goal-scorer notwithstanding, Calgary’s point production is very one dimensional.
Coleman’s first goal on Friday was certainly a beauty (indeed, his performance during the entire road trip as awesome). But the others came from the usual suspects: Gaudreau and Tkachuk. Carolina’s five goals, to contrast, came from 4 different players up and down their lineup.
Milan Lucic is creeping up on a 20-goal season. And Oliver Kylington has shown some decent offensive abilities among defensemen. But, unless the Calgary Flames get more from the likes of Monahan (once a 30-goal guy) or perhaps a Mikael Backlund, they’ll never get to the next level.
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The Calgary Flames Finally Scored First
Besides adding secondary scoring, Coleman’s aforementioned goal was the first one of the game. The first goal of the game is a bit of a ‘thing’ for me. As any of the 7 people that read my analyses regularly (hi Dad!) could tell you, I believe that scoring first is emblematic of the Flames’ commitment to Head Coach Darryl Sutter’s system of defense first and quick puck movement out of the defensive zone. A system which had them leading the Pacific Division before their COVID-mandated vacation.
With that in mind, it’s not only THAT Coleman scored first, but HOW he scored that should be considered as well. He was following the puck into the Hurricanes’ zone and, instead of giving up on the play when his opponents got possession, he kept up with them, stole the puck back and scored. Coleman put in the effort that the entire team put on display, with the effect of having Sutter call Friday’s first period the best the Flames had played in the previous fifteen.
Now, if only they they could string three such periods together consistently.
Sutter, in his post game media availability, was quick to not admonish his team. Citing the media’s pre-season expectations for the Calgary Flames, he said that the team was still far ahead of where many predicted they’d be.
Irrespective I have to believe that, between now and their next game on January 13th, there will be at least one bag skate.