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The Calgary Flames have problems. Serious problems.
After a short and sweet bump following the coaching change, the Flames are right back to what they’ve been all along: a bad hockey team.
They can’t generate offense at 5v5. They just can’t. Their rush offense is almost non-existent, and they’re not built to play a grind-it-out style Darryl Sutter has them playing.
All they do – if they can even set-up shop in the offensive zone – is move the puck around the perimeter before settling for a pile of low percentage point shots to create rebounds they’re not going to fight for, anyway. One-and-done is the name of the game for them.
Things aren’t much better at the other end of the ice. The Flames make too many head scratching mistakes defensively and, despite pouring a ton of resources into the position, they can’t get any goaltending.
Jacob Markstrom, the marquee free agent netminder coming off consecutive (team) MVP seasons in Vancouver, has looked like a shell of himself.
He owns a very disappointing .902 save percentage and ranks 68/77 with a Goals Saved Above Expected number of *checks notes* MINUS 8.99.
That sandwiches him between 40-year-old Ryan Miller and fringe NHLer Marcus Hogberg, who plays for the lowly Ottawa Senators. I’m sure that’s what the Flames had in mind when getting into a bidding war for Markstrom's services.
In short, the Flames are lifeless offensively, too mistake prone defensively, and they can’t get a save from their expensive goaltender in Year 1 of 6. Good stuff, good stuff.
What’s the problem? There are many.
Johnny Gaudreau has not been himself for two years. Sean Monahan has not been good – particularly at 5v5 – for even longer. They don’t have a 1C and they’re shallow as a puddle on the wings. Matthew Tkachuk strangely taking a step back is only making matters worse.
Defensively, father time has caught up – and then some – with Mark Giordano and the coaches dislike Juuso Valimaki to the point where Michael Stone(!!) is getting in games. The latter shouldn’t be in the NHL, let alone playing over one of the few promising long-term pieces the Flames have.
This team is not good enough to contend. Not even close. But fear not, because they just gave a coach who wants to win a Stanley Cup – like, right now – a three-year deal.
So, the Flames need to retool (at the least). They have a GM on the hot seat and a coach that wants to win immediately. That’s not exactly ideal.
What makes matters worse is that, if the Flames decide Brad Treliving isn’t the guy to get them out of this, they’re going to hire someone who inherits a coach they may not want, like, or have a relationship with.
Things are bad in Calgary. Real bad. And things aren’t going to get any better until the band aid is ripped off.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com and Evolving-Hockey.com
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