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On Team Identity - Scoreboard Watching - Flames/Canucks Game Day

April 16, 2024, 7:55 PM ET [25 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Odd question to start.

When is the last time you can remember a Calgary Flames roster having a real, established identity? One that the whole team leans into and differentiates them from most other teams in the NHL.

There have been successful seasons in the recent past. Bill Peters and Darryl Sutter’s teams brought some suffocating coverage. Darryl had the move slow but move together thing going and playing in spite of the coach was a recurring theme.

You can make a case for most seasons. 2014-2015 under Bob Hartley stands out. They loved to use stretch pass plays, and 10 of their 45 wins were third-period comebacks.

Editor’s note: Fun fact, the 2023-2024 Flames are tied with the 2014-2015 team for wins when trailing after 40 with two games to go.

It’s been a rough ride for the Flames in terms of turning the page. Ryan Huska’s group is 7-12-0 since Noah Hanifin was dealt on March 6, a 27th-place pace.

But the team is playing with a definable on-ice identity.

This post-Hanifin and Tanev version of the Calgary Flames is fully committed to dropping their hands and trading with the other team. Win or lose, you have a good chance of seeing some exciting hockey being played.

Another encouraging sign? Now that the team is relaxing the grip on their sticks a bit, suddenly, the powerplay has found life—not just a spark, but an inferno. The Flames have an absurd 40.9% success rate (1st in the NHL) since March 28. Prior to that, they ranked 30th with a 14.7% conversion rate.

Along that same time span, since March 28, Andrei Kuzmenko is tied for third in points across the NHL with 16 in nine games. He’s third in goals with nine over that span behind Steven Stamkos (11) and Auston Matthews (10).

Is this having your cake and eating it too? The Flames get to free fall to a better draft position, the games are fun to watch other than the odd stinker, and we’re seeing a style of hockey that fans in Calgary rarely ever get treated with.

In the words of Larry David: Pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Calgary Flames (37-38-5, 73 pts) vs Vancouver Canucks (49-22-9, 107 pts)

Last Ten: Calgary (4-6-0) Vancouver (5-4-1)

Time: 8:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

TV: Sportsnet One, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific, ESPN+

Scoreboard Watching
For those hoping to see the Flames move up the projected draft board, the Kraken-Jets game will be something to keep an eye on tonight. Seattle and Calgary are tied at 79 points with the Flames holding the tiebreaker.

A couple trains of thought there. First of all, maybe Seattle fans deserve that pick. They’ve witnessed 13 overtime losses this season to Calgary’s five.

The Flames lost 17 games in that fashion last season, and fans are still having night terrors about Ivan Barbashev. (Right? We're all having those?)

On the other hand, they have Matthew Beniers, Shane Wright, and recent playoff success. They can move the hell over.

Dire Hockey
Another must-watch? Washington can seal a playoff spot with a win tonight over the Flyers. If they don’t, all eyes will be on Detroit and Pittsburgh.


John Tortorella is going to have the Flyers ready to run through a wall to screw over Washington, and it’s all conveniently taking place before the Flames and Canucks drop the puck for an 8:00 p.m. start.

The Canucks
Vancouver has been shaky of late. A recurring theme has been losses to teams that they might face in the playoffs. Their last ten have featured two losses to the Kings, a 1-1 split with the Golden Knights, and a loss to the Stars. They appeared to take that personally on Saturday and handily beat the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 tune.

Tonight will certainly be different. If Calgary wants to go gloves down and trade chances, Vancouver has more than enough talent to bury them. To add fuel to that notion, Jacob Markstrom, who hasn’t posted a higher save percentage than .897 in over a month, is getting the start. The 34-year-old is clearly not playing at 100% healthy.

The Canucks come in at -222 favorites and will probably lose simply due to the fact that the Hockey Gods laugh at conventional reason.

Calgary Flames Projected Lineup
Eric Francis @EricFrancis provided some roster tweaks, but this is a true projection. Update at warmups.




Vancouver Canucks Projected Lineup
Courtesy of Brendan Bachelor. @BatchHockey

Puck drop at 8:07 p.m.

Trevor Neufeld

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