The Calgary Flames’ long-term success this season will depend on their ability to get more offensive production from secondary scorers.
Of the Flames’ 102 goals, 60 have come from Johnny Gaudreau (15), Matthew Tkachuk (15), Elias Lindholm (12) and Andrew Mangiapane (18). That’s 59 percent of the team’s total goals.
The Flames’ 102 goals is good for 17th in the NHL. Colorado, with 142, has the most, while the lowly New York Islanders sit at the foot of the league with 64.
While seeing the aforementioned quartet dominate offensively induces a single tear of joy, Darryl Sutter needs more balanced scoring for his side to be considered an elite Western Conference outfit.
Three of the four top scorers play as a trio on the first line, while the other, Mangiapane, has enjoyed a career season thus far. While the numbers from the first four are impressive, the Grand Canyon-size disparity between their collective goal return and the rest of the squad poses numerous challenges.
First, the opposition knows precisely how to stop Daryl Sutter’s side in their tracks. The opposition’s chances of winning, if they snuff out the formidable threat offered by the Flames’ top four goal-getters, are as high as when you sit in the nosebleeds at the ‘Dome.
Which is not a good look when facing elite NHL teams. Top teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers, have the depth and ability to employ devastatingly effective matchups, especially when playing on home ice.
As we witnessed first hand during the Flames recent eye-opening road trip.
Milan Lucic is Calgary’s fifth leading scorer. He has eight goals. Blake Coleman, who scored in Carolina last time out, has six tallies. After that, the Flames have four players with four goals apiece.
Amongst those is Sean Monahan, whose struggles so far this season have not gone unnoticed. He is the one player of the trailing pack who needs to contribute significantly more in the offensive zone. And he needs to improve his offensive production immediately.
For the Flames to have any chance of making a deep post-season run, they’ll need the likes of Monahan, Oliver Kylington, Coleman, Dillon Dube, Mikael Backlund, even Lucic, to up the ante and help support the prolific quartet.
Otherwise the boys from Cowtown will be hitting the links sooner than they’d like this spring.