The Calgary Flames are closing in on a playoff berth. Is now the time for goalie Dan Vladar to start more games to rest Jacob Markstrom?
The Calgary Flames’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is under 10. With a postseason berth essentially in the books, head coach Darryl Sutter has some work to do with his goalies.
We know he likes to ride or die with starter Jacob Markstrom. But he’s also thrown backup Dan Vladar into the lion’s den a few times, with some solid results.
So how does he handle the remaining 16 games?
A logical response would be letting the goalies split the final starts. But Sutter isn’t always logical, at least not to the fans. The Sutter way would be letting Markstrom start the majority of the games while Vladar gets in some garbage games. However, will it tire out his starting tender?
How Darryl Sutter should handle the Calgary Flames goalie situation.
Calgary has a relatively winnable schedule in April. They’ll play the Seattle Kraken and Nashville Predators twice each while facing teams like the Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Flames can play spoiler to the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks as these teams fight for the final Wild Card spot.
The team has three sets of back-to-backs.
The first comes in California when the Flames take on the Ducks and then head to the Bay Area to play the San Jose Sharks. The second is a trip to Chicago followed by visiting Nashville. Finally, the Flames end the 2021-2022 campaign on the road in Minnesota and Winnipeg.
Jacob Markstrom’s expected schedule
Until the Flames officially clinch the Pacific Division, Sutter is going to heavily work Markstrom. You can expect to see him play against LA, Anaheim, one game against Seattle, Vegas, Nashville, Dallas, Vancouver, and Minnesota.
Sutter has repeatedly said his team has accomplished nothing yet. If there’s no ‘X’ beside their name in the standings, there’s work to be done.
Dan Vladar’s expected schedule
However, Markstrom is still human and will need his rest. Vladar has shown he can steal wins against top teams. He has a 9-6-1 record, having won against the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Colorado Avalanche.
We should expect to see Vladar in at least three games in April, all of which will surround the back-to-back games. San Jose, Chicago and Winnipeg could be games we see the backup tender. The other dates will most likely depend on playoff status and if the division is still up for grabs.
Read more: Secondary scoring key part to Calgary Flames recent success
Flames fans have been critical of Sutter’s decisions lately surrounding the crease. The thing is both guys need to be ready for any situation. Calgary wants a long playoff run. If Markstrom has a stretch of bad games in the first round, Vladar has to be prepared to step in. That’s why Sutter has started him in random games against tough teams.
How would you handle the goaltender situation? Let us know in the comments.