What’s behind the Calgary Flames’ blazing hot start
By Josh Werle, Staff Writer
This year’s Calgary Flames squad has gotten off to an incredibly hot start (pun fully intended). They’re currently sitting near the top of the NHL’s Pacific division standings, and are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The entire team is firing on all cylinders. The stars of the team are contributing how they should be. The team is finding ways to maximize the amount of points they are getting and they may have finally solved their goaltending troubles.
Let’s take a look at why the Calgary Flames have had such a successful start to the 2021-22 NHL season.
The stars are shining
After the Flames lost their longtime captain Mark Giordano to the Seattle Kraken during the expansion draft, many fans were wondering who would be able to step up to the plate and take his spot. Giordano left some seriously big shoes to fill and although the Flames still haven’t found his replacement, the team is working together to fill that void.
There isn’t any one player that needs to go above and beyond to ensure the Flames’ success, but they do need all of their core players to be consistent. The Flames players have been consistent across the board to start this season, producing great offensive numbers every game they play.
At the time of writing, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm have produced an average of a point per game and Andrew Mangiapane is currently one of only seven players in the NHL to hit the 10-goal mark this early in the season.
If the Flames can keep up this offensive play all season, they are sure to finish strong in the Pacific division.
They are losing well
If you’ve made it to this point, I’m sure you aren’t still reading to hear about the Flames losing games. If you’ll bear with me for the remainder of this section, you will find out why the Flames losing games has actually been helping them. In the NHL, if your team happens to win a game, they receive two points in the standings. If your team loses a game in regulation, they receive no points. Finally, if your team loses a game in overtime or in a shootout, they receive one point.
At the time of writing, the Flames have suffered more overtime losses than regulation loses, which is something that needs to continue. Of course winning should always be their first priority, but losing games is an inevitability. If the Flames are going to do so, it’s always better to do that in overtime. Every single point counts, especially in the always-competitive Pacific Division and managing to secure one point during a loss doesn’t sting quite as bad as finishing a game completely empty handed.
After the departure of Miikka Kiprusoff at the conclusion of the 2012-13 NHL season, consistent goaltending has been an issue that has plagued the Flames. The organization tried their hand at developing younger goalies such as Karri Rämö, Jonas Hiller and David Rittich — none of which worked out. The organization also tried their hand at using veteran goalies such as Mike Smith, Cam Talbot and Brian Elliot — none of which worked out. It was clear that if the Flames wanted a true shot at the Stanley Cup, they needed to sign a goaltender who was ready to win right now.
As of this season, the Flames are no longer hoping their goaltender will one day be ready to win, or praying their goaltender still has what it takes. Jacob Markström is ready to win right now and that’s exactly what he has been doing for the Flames this season. Markström has been performing very consistently, currently reigning atop the rest of the NHL goaltenders with four shutouts. Unfortunately, the Flames can’t play Markström for the entire 82-game season and will need to occasionally rely on their backup goaltender Dan Vladar. The good news is that both Markström and Vladar are playing well. At the time of writing, both goaltenders have a goals-against average that is less than two and a save percentage that is above .930.
Overall, the Flames have had a lot of success to start their regular season campaign and it doesn’t look like they will be slowing down anytime soon. If their success continues, Flames fans may finally be able to get their hopes up for a Stanley Cup run this offseason.