The Calgary Flames are officially two-thirds of the way into the season, finishing this segment 25-18-11 and sitting in a tight race for a playoff spot. The team still looks inconsistent and has a lot to figure out if they will make the playoffs and make an impact.
This week saw a tale of two Calgary Flames teams. One game was the 7-2 thrashing of the Buffalo Sabres, where the team looked unstoppable. The other was the 4-3 overtime collapse to the Ottawa Senators where they blew a two-goal lead in 3 minutes. This pretty much sums up the Flame’s season so far – when they needed it most, they couldn’t stop a beach ball.
The Flames actually didn’t play all that poorly this week. All three games saw CF% well north of 60%, and two of the three had their xGF% above 54. In fact, the team ranks second league-wide in CF% and third in xGF%.
Now for a fun counterargument. Guess where they rank in both save percentage and shooting percentage? 28th and 22nd, respectively. While their shooting percentage has started to regress to the mean, their starting goalie Jacob Markstrom still can’t stop a beach ball. And, although Dan Vladar has been better, he’s been average at best. So what gives?
Well, here’s what gives. The fact is that Jacob Markstrom can’t make a save and hasn’t been able to since the Edmonton series. He truly hasn’t looked right since that moment, especially since he was providing Vezina-worthy goaltending last year. If he can’t figure it out, maybe it’s worth it to call up Dustin Wolf and give him a shot.
Most Impressive Player – Dillon Dube
Eight points in his last seven games are enough for Dillon Dube to get the award for the most impressive player in this segment. His results beside Lindholm and Toffoli have been excellent. And he’s set a new career high in points with 33. I don’t want to brag, but I wrote about Dube’s potential to breakout before the season started and he’s proving me right.
He ranks 6th on the Flames in individual expected goals but is also riding a 13% shooting percentage. This, however, is unsustainable as he typically shoots 8.5%. Regardless, he’s looked as confident as ever and it’s nice to see him finally rounding into form as a dangerous top 9 option for the Flames.
Most Disappointing Player – Jonathan Huberdeau
I’ve been an advocate for Jonathan Huberdeau since he arrived on the Flames. I’ve been part of the crowd that says “he just needs time to adjust to the system” because that’s truly what I believed. That especially because Tkachuk and Gaudreau had slow starts under Sutter. Having now watched him for fifty-plus games, something that’s missing has been the star factor.
I can truly count on one hand the number of times that his play has truly provided the ‘wow’ factor. What once was viewed as the stylistic replacement for Gaudreau hasn’t panned out the way the Flames had hoped. In fact, there’s a chance he could break the record for the biggest drop in points in NHL history. Unfortunately, the stats back up that his offensive drop hasn’t just been in points, but he’s had a hard time driving play as well. While there’s still a chance he turns it around, he’s running out of time to prove he belongs.
Next 5 games: DET, NYR, PHI, ARI, VGK