Flames struggle to score goals in the first quarter of the season
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
During a recent and short road trip to the desert, the Calgary Flames were shutout 3-0 to the Arizona Coyotes and 6-0 to the Las Vegas Golden Knights — an unfortunate depiction of how the Flames’ season is going so far.
After their Nov. 17 loss to the Golden Knights, the Flames have only scored one goal in their last eight periods of hockey up to that point.
This is not great numbers for a team who had five 70+ point players last season — the most of any NHL team — and finished second overall in the league last year.
At first, it just seemed like the beginning of the season jitters, but instead of getting better, the Flames continue to slip away and somehow get worse as the season continues.
The Flames have multiple players in the negative double-digits recording some of the worst +/- records in the league, while also having multiple players lead the league in minor and major penalties.
Against the Golden Knights, the Flames’ top line superstars, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were on the ice for five of the Knights’ six goals — achieving the opposite of what they’re being paid to do. The top line and top six should be producing points rather than contributing to the other team scoring goals.
Many players, including captain Mark Giordano, have negative records right now.
Monahan and defenseman Noah Hanifin both have -11, Mark Jankowski has -10 and Mikael Frolik has a -12 record so far this season during the Flames’ 10-10-3 record.
At one point, Frolik led the league in minor penalty minutes as well. That’s why the veteran forward was a healthy scratch before recently rejoining the team.
Jankowski, who led the league in shorthanded goals last season, has not even been on the ice for a single goal this season. He currently has zero goals, zero assists and hasn’t even been on an ice surface to celebrate a teammate’s goal.
That definitely doesn’t help.
Even Matthew Tkachuk, who signed a three year $7-million AAV contract prior to this season has been having a rough time these past few weeks. Tkachuk, who leads the team in points with 20, has only one goal and one assist in his last 5 games between Nov. 7-17.
As of Nov. 18, the Flames sit at a 10-10-3 record leaving the players and fans concerned about how the season is going so far.
“It’s disgusting. It’s bad. It’s bad right now. We need to change this around … something’s gotta change here. We’ve gotta get back to the old us and get out of this little funk here because this is not fun,” Tkachuk said in a press conference Nov. 17.
Only a few players have lived up to expectations early on this season, reported journalist Wes Gilbertson.
“Realistically, how many #Flames have played up to expectations so far this season? Lindholm, Tkachuk, Rittich, Hanifin, Andersson would be on my list. There are others, but not many,” Gilbertson said on Twitter. And he’s not wrong.
It appears only a handful of players along with goaltenders David Rittich and Cam Talbot are the only Flames to show up so far.
Despite their poor efforts so far, the Flames still maintain a decent record and still have time to turn this season around… but it won’t come easy. The Flames have easily had one of the hardest schedules in the league playing some difficult teams and spending a lot of time on the road.
But, something has to change in the next couple of weeks. The team shouldn’t be panicking but they should be concerned. Everyone knows this team can do better than this. They just have to work on scoring some goals and proving they want to win.