Calgary Flames 2023/24 Power Play Preview

Sep 25, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Calgary Flames assistant coach Marc Savard speaks to the media after the Flames defeated the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Calgary Flames assistant coach Marc Savard speaks to the media after the Flames defeated the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /

This article is focused on the Calgary Flames power play as part of the Calgary Flames 2023/24 Season Preview.

In a season when scoring was hard to come by – even with the second highest shot volume in the league at 36.0 behind only the Penguins at 36.8 shots/GP – the Calgary Flames would have benefited greatly from a better performing power play in 2022/23. Had it converted just a few more times throughout the season, it could have been the difference-maker leading to just two more wins and a playoff appearance for the Flames.

Last season, the Flames power play converted at a 19.8% clip (17.5% net, which takes into account the six shorthanded goals against the Flames) for 50 PP goals on 252 PP opportunities – the 19th best PP league-wide.

The power play under former Flames assistant coach, Kirk Muller, became known as the “Mullerplay” and not for good reason; if “Mullerplay” sounds boring, it’s because it was – what a snooze fest. Zone entries, set up, and high danger opportunities on the man advantage were hard to watch last season. Further, Sutter and Muller never settled on a consistent first power play unit. For most of the season, power play deployment was shared between what felt like a PP1A and PP1B unit, both of which were swapping personnel regularly. By the end of the season, Jonathan Huberdeau, who should be one of the most effective PP players on the roster, was being deployed sparingly.

With both Sutter and Muller removed from the Flames bench, the man advantage special team will be the brain child of former Calgary Flame and new assistant coach, Marc Savard, moving forward. After playing for the Flames from 1999 until 2002, Savard hit his offensive playing career high in the 2005/06 season as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers with 28 goals and 97 points. Savard has served as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues and most recently was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires just last season. With Savard behind the bench, the Windsor Spitfires had the second-best PP% in the OHL last season, converting at a rate of 25.9% (behind only the Sarnia Sting at 26.0%).

As evidenced in early preseason action, Flames fans can expect faster puck movement and a more modern, creative approach to producing offence on the power play. Expect the team to try different player combinations early, but settle on a true number one unit that takes advantage of Jonathan Huberdeau’s skill set versus burying it. Here’s a way-too-early guess at what PP1 and PP2 could look like this season:

Calgary Flames power play unit 1

Sharangovich – Kadri – Lindholm – Huberdeau – Andersson

Calgary Flames power play unit 2

Coronato – Backlund – Mangiapane – Dube/Duehr – Weegar/Hanifin

Unit 2 update from Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg on September 28, 2023:

Savard is testing out two defencemen on the second unit with Backlund, Mangiapane, and Dube as the forwards:

I’d expect defenceman MacKenzie Weegar to have more opportunity to quarterback the power play on the back end and would be keen to see Walker Duehr get some PP time as well.

As evidenced already in the preseason, rookie Flame Matthew Coronato has an elite shot with a wicked quick release. While he may start on the second unit (false as of September 28), Coronato has the potential to be a key triggerman on the Calgary Flames power play and I would not be surprised if he becomes a shooter on the first unit, depending on what sort of chemistry buds among Yegor Sharangovich, Nazem Kadri, Huberdeau, and Elias Lindholm.

With a new coach, system, and attitude that will certainly prioritize the critical nature of a successful power play in the modern NHL, the Calgary Flames have the opportunity to produce in a much more meaningful way with the man advantage in 2023/24. Other elements that will contribute to a playoff berth include winning one-goal games, elevating youth, and confidence, trust, and amicability with the coaching staff – all of which would be boosted with a clicking power play.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see time remaining on the Flames PP and think, “There’s a good chance they’re gonna get one here”?

Back to the Calgary Flames 2023/24 Season Preview —>

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