Nick and Cam reminisce on the 2022 Stanley Cup Final and talk about Jim Montgomery, offseason plans and free agency reactions so far.
Charlie McAvoy scored the eventual game-winner on a string of three unanswered goals to open things up before the Boston Bruins held on for a, 4-2, victory over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Linus Ullmark (7-4-0, 2.56 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 11 games played) made 40 saves on 42 shots against in the win for the Bruins.
Flames netminder, Jacob Markström (10-6-5, 1.94 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 21 games played) turned aside 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.
Boston improved to 14-8-2 (30 points) overall and moved into 4th place in the Atlantic Division– one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in division standings and one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2nd wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
For the first time this season, the B’s are in playoff position.
Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 15-7-6 (36 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Pacific Division lead– one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Bruins split their regular season series with the Flames 1-1-0 after losing, 4-0, on Nov. 21st at TD Garden and beating Calgary, 4-2, on Saturday night.
Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (lower body), Brandon Carlo (lower body) and Tomáš Nosek (non-COVID-19 related illness) among their skaters, while the team continued to be without their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, who remained in the United States for the duration of the Western Canada road trip in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.
Acting head coach, Joe Sacco, made one change among his forwards, replacing Karson Kuhlman on the fourth line with Curtis Lazar– a move that would pay dividends in the night’s action.
Kuhlman joined Jack Ahcan as Boston’s pair of healthy scratches in Calgary, while Oskar Steen had been reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday.
Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand apparently got just enough of a stick hooked around Matthew Tkachuk somehow– replay had shown that it was perhaps another Bruin that committed the infraction and Marchand was mistakenly put in the box, but nonetheless, the Flames went on the night’s first power play at 10:32.
Calgary couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage and, in fact, it was rather short lived as Sean Monahan slashed Lazar at 10:50 of the first period, yielding 4-on-4 action for a span of 1:42 prior to an abbreviated power play for Boston.
The Bruins couldn’t muster anything on their short power play, however.
Late in the period, Connor Clifton (1) pinched in from the point down where a right wing would normally skate and carried the puck into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot clean past Markström on the glove side.
Trent Frederic (2) and Anton Blidh (3) recorded the assists on Clifton’s goal as the B’s took a, 1-0, lead at 17:43 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston carried a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing Calgary, 15-7, in shots on goal.
The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (10-1), takeaways (3-2), hits (12-10) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while both teams managed to amass four giveaways each in the first frame.
The two clubs were also 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.
Matt Grzelcyk scored the game-winning goal late in Thursday night’s, 3-2, win in Edmonton, yet received the first penalty of the middle frame in Saturday night’s effort as he hooked Andrew Mangiapane at 1:55 of the second period.
Once again, though, the Flames came up empty on the power play.
Moments later, Boston used their surge in momentum from a successful penalty kill to translate their good fortune on the ice with a goal on the scoreboard.
Marchand passed the puck to David Pastrnak in the neutral zone as the two wingers pushed into the attacking zone, where Pastrnak spun and flung the puck towards the goal as Marchand crashed the net.
Marchand (11) tipped the rubber biscuit over Markström’s glove side and under the crossbar to extend Boston’s lead to, 2-0.
Pastrnak (13) and Patrice Bergeron (12) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal at 5:52 of the second period.
With the secondary assist, Bergeron (554) surpassed Phil Esposito (553) for sole possession of the fourth-most assists in Bruins franchise history.
By the end of the night, Bergeron would sit at 555 career assists in a Boston uniform– 69 assists behind the man in third place in franchise history, Bobby Orr, with 624.
At 36-years-old and in his 18th season, which also happens to be a contract year for Bergeron, there are no guarantees he’ll move up higher in the list, but for what it’s worth, Ray Bourque leads in all-time assists by a Bruin with 1,111, followed by John Bucyk with 794, then Orr (624) and Bergeron (555).
56 seconds after Marchand gave Boston a two-goal lead, McAvoy (4) extended it to three goals after waltzing into the high slot from the point while Bergeron worked a carom off the glass from the trapezoid off of Marchand’s stick back to the star Bruins defender.
Bergeron (13) and Marchand (16) tallied the assists as the B’s took a, 3-0, lead at 6:48– further solidifying the Boston captain in franchise history.
Moments later, Bldih slashed Oliver Kylington at 11:12 and presented the Flames with another power play opportunity.
This time Calgary didn’t let another skater advantage go by the wayside.
Rasmus Andersson sent a shot attempt towards the net that got knocked down before Tkachuk (12) scooped it up on the doorstep and shoveled the errant puck past Ullmark to put the Flames on the board.
Andersson (14) and Johnny Gaudreau (20) notched the assists on Tkachuk’s power-play goal and Calgary trailed, 3-1, at 12:19 of the second period.
At the very least, Tkachuk scored a goal on his 24th birthday, despite not much else going Calgary’s way for the night.
Late in the period, Marchand cut another rut to the sin bin for slashing Nikita Zadorov at 15:13.
The Flames weren’t able to make Boston’s penalty kill pay for Marchand’s sins as he was freed from the box and the period came to a close shortly thereafter.
Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed, 31-15, in shots on goal and were outshot 2:1 (16-8) by Calgary in the second period alone.
The Flames had also taken a lead in giveaways (8-7) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston continued to dominated blocked shots (16-4) and hits (18-17).
Both teams managed to have three takeaways each, while Calgary was 1/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1.
Early in the final frame, Frederic sent a backhand shot to the net that rebounded and bounced around amidst the chaos of bodies in the low slot and crease.
Eventually, Lazar (2) chipped away at it and scored from the front doorstep to make it, 4-1, in favor of the Bruins.
Frederic (3) and Grzelcyk (5) had the assists on the goal at 2:57 of the third period.
Taylor Hall tripped up Christopher Tanev minutes after Lazar’s goal to give the Flames their final power play of the night at 6:20 of the third period, but Calgary couldn’t score on the ensuing advantage.
Instead, Monahan delivered a swift cross check on Jake DeBrusk at 14:18 and was penalized as a result.
Shortly after emerging from the box unscathed, however, Monahan (4) redirected a shot pass from Milan Lucic with his skate blade behind Ullmark at 18:24.
Lucic (4) and Andersson (15) tallied the assists on the goal (which was completely legal, by the way, since you can deflect a puck with your skate as long as it’s not a distinct kicking motion or you’re in the process of coming to a stop) and the Flames trailed, 4-2.
With 1:12 remaining in the action, Calgary’s head coach, Darryl Sutter, pulled Markström for an extra attacker.
After a stoppage in play shortly thereafter, he used his only timeout to rally his skaters.
After Boston iced the puck a couple of times in the final minute, the Flames couldn’t string anything together to make things interesting.
The Bruins had won, 4-2, at the final horn and finished the night trailing Calgary in shots on goal, 42-27, despite a, 12-11, advantage in favor of the B’s in the third period alone.
Boston exited the building leading in blocked shots (21-7) and hits (26-22), while Calgary left Scotiabank Saddledome leading in giveaways (12-9) and faceoff win% (51-49).
The Flames finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.
The B’s improved to 10-4-0 (6-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 11-0-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after one and 10-1-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.
Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 2-4-3 (0-2-3 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-3-3 (0-1-3 at home) when trailing after the first period and 0-4-1 (0-1-1 at home) when losing after two periods this season.
The Bruins return home after amassing five out of a possible six points (2-0-1) in their Western Canada road trip to host the Vegas Golden Knights next Tuesday (Dec. 14th) before hitting the road again for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders, Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.
Calgary Flames forward, Andrew Mangiapane, continued his dominance on the road as Dan Vladar made 28 saves in a, 4-0, shutout over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Sunday night.
Vladar (4-0-1, 1.57-goals against average, .945 save percentage in five games played) stopped all 28 shots that he faced for his second shutout this season (as well as the second of his career)– bringing Calgary’s total to seven shutouts this season alone.
Bruins netminder, Jeremy Swayman (5-3-0, 2.39 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in eight games played) made 28 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.
Boston fell to 9-6-0 (18 points) on the season and stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Flames improved to 11-3-5 (27 points) overall and jumped into 1st place in the Pacific Division– leaping over the Edmonton Oilers (13-4-0, 26 points) in the process for not just the division lead, but the best record in the entire Western Conference entering Monday.
Sunday night marked the first meeting between the Bruins and Flames since Feb. 25, 2020, when Calgary beat Boston, 5-2, at TD Garden in their last meeting before the ongoing pandemic was declared about three weeks later.
The Bruins were once again without the services of Trent Frederic (upper body), but head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no lineup changes from Saturday night’s, 5-2, victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road to Sunday night’s matchup on home ice with Calgary.
Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman remained in the press box as healthy scratches for Boston in the 499th consecutive sellout at TD Garden.
Shortly after puck drop, Brandon Carlo was checked along the boards and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him as he made his way down the tunnel before returning after missing approximately one shift.
It didn’t take much longer, however, for the first official event on the scoresheet as Juuso Välimäki sent a shot on Swayman that rebounded right to Johnny Gaudreau (8) for the right place, right time goal and the, 1-0, lead for Calgary at 1:29 of the first period.
Välimäki (2) and Matthew Tkachuk (8) tallied the assists on Gaudreau’s goal, which marked the 12th consecutive road game in which the Flames scored first.
Moments later, Rasmus Andersson cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking David Pastrnak at 6:27, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the ensuing power play.
Heading into the first intermission, the Flames led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on net.
Calgary also held the advantage in just about everything else, including blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (3-2) and hits (14-13), while Boston led in giveaways (6-2) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).
The Flames had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.
Massachusetts native, Noah Hanifin (1), scored his first goal of the season on yet another rebound that Swayman couldn’t control at 13:51 of the second period after Boston generated momentum in the other zone that was quickly depleted by a faceoff loss to the Flames in Calgary’s attacking zone in the build up to Hanifin’s goal.
Tkachuk (9) and Andersson (9) notched the assists on the goal as the Flames took a, 2-0, lead.
A few minutes later, Hanifin was off to the penalty box for catching Anton Blidh with a high stick at 16:44 of the second period.
Once again, however, the Bruins couldn’t do anything with the skater advantage.
Through 40 minutes of action Sunday night in Boston, the Flames led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 20-18, in total shots on net, despite both teams amassing 11 shots each in the second period alone.
Calgary led in blocked shots (10-9), while the Bruins held the advantage in giveaways (10-4), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (59-42).
The two squads managed to have four takeaways aside entering the final frame, while Boston was 0/2 on the power play and the Flames had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.
Välimäki was assessed a holding infraction at 2:09 of the third period, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) Boston couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.
Instead, the Bruins gave up a shorthanded goal against as too many skaters went into the attacking zone and not enough could get back in time before Dillon Dubé and Mangiapane exchanged rapid fire with Swayman– generating save after save and rebound after rebound until Mangiapane (15) tucked the puck into the back of the twine.
It was the 14th goal scored on the road for Mangiapane in 15 games this season– marking the first time that any NHL player recorded as many goals outside of their home arena in as many games since John LeClair notched 14 goals on the road in 15 games in 1994-95.
Dubé (7) had the only assist on Mangiapane’s shorthanded goal as the Flames took a, 3-0, lead at 3:08 of the third period.
About a minute later, Mikael Backlund (7) followed up with a shot that Swayman got a piece of before the rubber biscuit slid over the goal line prior to Charlie Coyle fishing it out and keeping play going– at least until the play was reviewed when the puck was clearly observed completely over the line on replay.
Elias Lindholm (12) had the only assist on Backlund’s goal and Calgary took a commanding, 4-0, lead at 4:11 of the third period.
Boston was frustrated for the rest of the night by both Vladar’s ongoing shutout and their own efforts (or lack thereof) as Brad Marchand took a slashing penalty at 7:48, followed by a holding minor against Nick Foligno at 13:56.
The Flames didn’t score on either power play, however.
At the final horn Calgary sealed the deal on a, 4-0, win with Vladar earning his second career shutout in the process.
The Flames finished the night leading in shots on goal, 32-28, including an, 12-10, advantage in shots in the third period alone.
Calgary also exited TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (15-14), while Boston wrapped up Sunday night’s action leading in giveaways (12-6), hits (37-28) and faceoff win% (53-47).
The Flames went 0/2 and the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play.
According to Sportsnet Stats, Calgary also became the first NHL team since offensive passes were allowed in 1929, to record seven shutouts within their first 19 games of a season.
Meanwhile, Boston dropped to 2-3-0 (2-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-3-0 (2-1-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-4-0 (1-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.
The Flames improved to 11-1-3 (9-1-2 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 10-1-1 (9-1-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 10-0-1 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins hit the road for a game in Buffalo against the Sabres on Wednesday before returning home to finish November with a three-game homestand starting Friday afternoon against the New York Rangers in the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (Nov. 26th at 1 p.m. ET on ABC).
2020-21 record 26-27-3, 55 points
5th in the Scotia NHL North Division
Missed the postseason for the first time since 2020
Additions: F Blake Coleman, F Alex Gallant (signed to a PTO), F Trevor Lewis, F Tyler Pitlick (acquired from SEA), F Brad Richardson, D Nick DeSimone, D Erik Gudbranson, D Kevin Gravel, D Andy Welinski, D Nikita Zadorov (acquired from CHI), G Adam Werner, G Dan Vladar (acquired from BOS)
Subtractions: F Spencer Foo (KHL), F Josh Leivo (signed with CAR), F Joakim Nordström (KHL), F Zac Rinaldo (signed with CBJ), F Buddy Robinson (signed with ANA), F Derek Ryan (signed with EDM), F Dominik Simon (signed with PIT), D Mark Giordano (expansion, SEA), D Carl-Johan Lerby (SHL), D Nikita Nesterov (KHL), D Alexander Petrovic (signed with DAL), D Alexander Yelesin (KHL), G Louis Domingue (signed with PIT)
Still Unsigned: G Artyom Zagidulin
Re-signed: F Dillon Dubé, F Glenn Gawdin, F Justin Kirkland, F Matthew Phillips, F Luke Philp, F Brett Ritchie, D Oliver Kylington, D Connor Mackey, D Colton Poolman, D Michael Stone, D Juuso Välimäki, G Tyler Parsons
Offseason Analysis: Calgary is facing an existential crisis.
They can either trust in their core players that they just might get it done if they’ve become frustrated by years of falling short (or not even making the playoffs at all, as they missed the postseason in 2021) or they can begin to move forward by hitting the “reset” button.
This offseason, Flames General Manager, Brad Treliving, chose to add without subtracting– to overhaul, rather than to rebuild (at least for now).
Joakim Nordström, Derek Ryan, Zac Rinaldo and more are gone. They’ve left for other professional leagues around the world, Edmonton and Columbus, respectively.
Mark Giordano was claimed by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft after breaking into the league with the Flames in the 2005-06 season. He spent 15 years in Calgary and amassed 143-366–509 totals in 949 games in a Flames uniform and had been captain in the “C of Red” since the 2013-14 season.
Though many fans in Calgary would like to belive the 37-year-old will spend one season in Seattle and return to the Flames, there are no guarantees.
Calgary’s already worked on developing a good-standing relationship with their new Pacific Division rivals as they got traded a 2022 4th round pick to the Kraken for forward, Tyler Pitlick, on July 22nd– a day after the expansion draft.
Pitlick slides in as a quality top-nine forward for the Flames and had 6-5–11 totals in 38 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season while battling injury.
He’s reached the 20-point plateau twice in his career in 2017-18 with Dallas (27 points in 80 games) and 2019-20 with Philadelphia (20 points in 63 games) and should be a low-risk high-reward depth move.
Treliving made a splash when free agency opened on July 28th, signing two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, Blake Coleman, to a six-year contract worth $4.900 million per season.
Coleman’s speed and skill solidifies Calgary’s middle-six as he should be on the second or third line at all times.
He’s had three consecutive seasons with at least 30 points since the 2018-19 season and notched 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 55 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020-21.
Coleman on a line with Andrew Mangiapane is a game-changer for Calgary’s offense– especially as they’ve re-signed Dillon Dubé and still have Sean Monahan down the middle to fill out the top-nine with Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk on the roster.
The same day that free agency began, Treliving also made a pair of trades–first acquiring defender, Nikita Zadorov, from Chicago for a 2022 3rd round pick (originally belonging to the Toronto Maple Leafs) and later acquiring goaltender, Dan Vladar, from the Boston Bruins for Calgary’s own 2022 3rd round pick.
Zadorov, 26, signed a one-year deal worth $3.750 million with the Flames and had 1-7–8 totals in 55 games with Chicago last season, as well as 23-60–83 totals in 411 career NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Chicago.
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Russian native isn’t an offensive powerhouse from the blue line, but rather a top-four shutdown defensive defender. At his best, Zadorov can make hit after hit and pummel an opposing team’s offense into submission in his own zone, though the occasional bad penalty may result.
Vladar, 24, made his regular season debut last season for the Bruins and went 2-2-1 in five games played with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage in that span.
Don’t let the stats fool you, though, as Boston allowed eight goals against in Vladar’s last start against the Washington Capitals on April 11th before the emergence of Jeremy Swayman and return from injury for Tuukka Rask forced B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy’s, hand down the stretch and through the postseason.
Vladar is capable of holding his own in the NHL and should be a decent backup behind Jacob Markström in net for Calgary.
In 2019-20, Vladar had a 1.79 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in 25 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL). He followed that effort up with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 10 games with Providence last season.
Treliving signed unrestricted free agents, Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Erik Gudbranson, to one-year contracts over the summer– adding Richardson on an $800,000 cap hit for depth, Lewis as a fourth liner with an $800,000 cap hit and Gudbranson ($1.950 million cap hit) as a defender that just might push Oliver Kylington or Juuso Välimäki out of regular ice time.
Richardson, 36, was limited to 17 games with the Nashville Predators last season and had 1-3–4 totals after spending 16 prior seasons with the Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Coyotes and Predators.
He won a Stanley Cup ring with then Los Angeles head coach, Darryl Sutter, in 2012, while Lewis won two Cups in his Kings tenure in 2012 and 2014.
Lewis joins the Flames after spending last season with the Winnipeg Jets– notching 5-5–10 totals in 56 games after spending 674 games in a Los Angeles uniform from parts of the 2008-09 season through 2019-20.
Gudbranson bounced from the Ottawa Senators to the Predators at the 2021 deadline after amassing 1-2–3 totals in 36 games with the Sens before contributing one assist in nine games with Nashville afterward.
With only four points in 45 games, Gudbranson isn’t much competition for Välimäki, who had 2-9–11 totals in 49 games for Calgary last season, but the clock is ticking on Kylington’s tenure in the “C of Red”.
Ranked 24th by TSN in the final draft rankings ahead of the 2015 NHL Draft, Kylington fell to the Flames in the 2nd round at 60th overall and has only appeared in 95 career games approaching seven years out of his draft year.
He had one assist in eight games last season and re-signed with Calgary on a one-year, two-way contract and has 16 points in his career, while Välimäki already has 14 points in 73 games in parts of two seasons since breaking into the NHL with the Flames in 2018-19.
Just like with Calgary’s core, time might be running out for a serious chance.
Offseason Grade: A-
If you were hoping for the Flames to tear things down this offseason, then they failed this summer.
If you’re looking at things from the perspective that adding without subtracting while still having enough of a core to make something happen, well, then signing Coleman alone is enough to laud Treliving praise for making a move instead of sticking to the script.
Of course, now the pressure is on for Calgary to succeed or risk fraying their relationship with Gaudreau and other Flames veterans, which would mean that Treliving would be forced to make some big trades by the deadline or next summer.
That said, the biggest detractor from the Flames this offseason might just be the Flames themselves as Sutter’s coaching style hasn’t adapted to the NHL in 2021.
If you don’t let your best players play their games and try to box them into a mold they don’t fit, then you’re only bringing yourself down in the league currently.
The Calgary Flames have been toying with the idea of moving one of their core pieces for what feels like three offseasons now. When discussing core members, people are mainly referring to Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, and more than likely Matthew Tkachuk. With the Seattle Kraken more than likely taking Giordano, the Flames need to evaluate the forward group and why he shouldn’t be the only core piece they move away from.
The lack of production from the forwards is a cause for concern throughout the regular season but as well at the postseason. Johnny Gaudreau has 8 postseason goals in 30 games. He went without a goal in the 2016-17 as well as the 2018-19 run. He is top five in the league for even strength goal scorers. While he has appeared to have a streaky stretch here and there, you have to consider who he is carrying. While most of the time it is Monahan centering him, he often has a washed up AHL player on the right wing. We’ve seen Zac Rinaldo and Brett Ritchie try to make a permanent home there and it never works.
Adjustments were made when Monahan’s season came to a close. Gaudreau saw time on the top line consisting of Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau was playing the way one might expect Johnny Hockey to play. When you elevate a player and surround them with similar talent you are setting them up for success rather than holding them back. He had 10 points in his last 10 games. That first line is a recipe for success if you ask me.
Sean Monahan has had an unfortunate string of injuries plague his career. The 26 year old has had a number of surgeries that are a cause for concern for any hockey player. Back in 2016 he needed wrist surgery. At the end of the Flames playoff run in 2018, Monahan disclosed that he needed a number of procedures including, two hernia surgeries, surgically repairing a groin, as well as another wrist surgery. Fast forward to May 2021 and it’s reported that the first round draft pick needed hip surgery.
Expectations heading into the season were high for Monahan. It was time for him to finally take the leap to the top line but alas the season was nothing to write home about. Monahan underperformed with just 10 goals and 18 assists. His CORSI was 55.5% which is just above the 50% threshold. In all honesty, one would expect him to be performing at a higher level.
Assuming Monahan is ready for the season come October, his performance may still be lacking. Recovering from hip surgery takes a while and is not anything that should be rushed. The difference between cleared to play and healed is probably one million miles. We’ve seen players like David Pastrnak come back immediately from hip surgery and have a down year. It took David Krejci two seasons to fully heal and get back up to caliber.
The Flames should have moved Monahan well before this.
His trade value right now is 0. You can’t move a guy who is having that serious of a surgery. Teams don’t trade for a player whose season ended due to an injury. It’s common sense. However, with a string of surgeries and a down year, the Flames are going to be out for some time to come. Hindsight is 20/20. I’m no expert but something tells me that you could’ve seen this coming. It’s going to be harder to move a player with a laundry list of injuries and surgeries than it would have been after the 2018-19 season.
Losing Giordano in the expansion draft does a lot more harm than you might expect, especially now that you can’t move your core’s weakest link. The Flames have their work cut out for them and it’s up to Brad Treliving to take the Flames from mediocre to a competitor.
The Flames finished the season in fifth place of the North Division. While expectations were high, the reality is that the team did not have what it takes to make it in the playoffs. One issue being the team’s health and the offensive struggles and inconsistency. The Flames are playing middle of the road hockey but with a few tweaks and tune ups, they could be a playoff team.
Andrew Mangiapane is emerging as one of the Flames best players. He bounced between the middle six and earned himself a new career high 18 goals. His regular season performance was a launching pad into his success with Team Canada. Number 88 has 7 goals in 6 games. He is making quite the case for a top six spot in the Calgary Flames lineup and it’s time to utilize that talent.
There’s no denying that the middle six of the Flames lineup needs some tweaking. We’re going to assume that Sean Monahan stays and Johnny Gaudreau bounces between the top line. Although, a case has been made for why he needs to be separated from Monahan but alas, that’s a conversation for another day. So, Mangiapane is one of your most effective forwards. He was fourth in points with 32 and second in goals with 18. Had it been a regular 82 game season, Mangiapane was on pace for 26 goals.
That second line needs some sort of elevation. Considering Monahan’s injury history, it appears that he hasn’t fully healed from hip and groin surgery. Just as a reminder, being cleared to play does not mean you are fully healed. The problem with the second line is that the right wing slot is a revolving door. It could be Dillion Dube, Brett Ritchie, or if they want to win, it will be Mangiapane. There needs to be some sort of consistency on the right wing. The Brett Ritchie experiment is more than likely done. With that, I would like to call all attempts to rejuvenate forth liners or washed up AHLers. It’s time to use your talent in an effective manner. That means shuffling the lines and making sure your lines are set up for success. As we saw in the last push of the season, moving Gadreau to a line with a consistent center and strong winger created a situation where scoring with a regular occurrence. Matthew Tkachuk, who had 11 goals heading into the last 5 games, ended the season with 16 after seeing an increase in production in the last five games with five goals.
Making Mangiapane a permanent member of the second line would ensure offensive success. You would be giving Sean Monahan another talented and capable winger to work with. Johnny Gaudreau wouldn’t be held back by someone who is older and a bit slower. You have youth on your side when you add Mangiapane to the line. I do believe it would be worthwhile to look into. It doesn’t make sense to have a revolving door or right wingers when the talent is right there.
The twenty four year old has made strides in the last year and people are already fully worried he will be given a Milan Lucic like contract. There is a stark difference between the two but we will start at the age difference and one is on the rise while the other is at the tailend of their career. The concerns shouldn’t be about paying Mangiapane. It should be making sure the team utilizes him in a way that is successful and beneficial.
There is a lot of theorizing one could do this offseason about the 2021-22 Flames line up, but one thing should be for certain and that is putting Andrew Mangiapane on a line where he can succeed and assist the Flames to more wins. Out of all the youth on the team, looking to take that next step in their career, he has earned a right to make the second line his home. The team could benefit from a 20+ goal scorer and you’re not going to get that if he is buried as a bottom six player. Blowing up the team doesn’t have to be the route management takes as long as they are willing to acknowledge and build around the talent shining through.
The Calgary Flames dropped 2 of 3 to the Ottawa Senators after a 5-1 loss Monday night. They have now lost 7 of their last 10. Something’s gotta give.
General Manager Brad Treliving made the trip to Ottawa this time around. This comes after Montreal fired their head coach Claude Julian, after losing to the Senators. His appearance raised plenty of eyebrows and gave fans a glimmer of hope that change is on its way.
It was mismanagement that once again cost the Flames two points. Geoff Ward’s fourth line was Simon-Nordstrom-Leivo. It often times feels like he pulls names out of a hat to complete his lineup. Nordstrom at center is an interesting choice I’m not entirely sure one could easily explain. In total, he spent just under 8 minutes on ice. As a whole, the bottom 3 were on the ice for under 5 minutes.
It was Milan Lucic who scored the lone goal of the game. This was his second goal of the three game tilt. His production has improved since Ward has taken over as head coach. In 62 games, Lucic had 8 goals. He has 6 goals in 23 games. There’s room to speculate that Ward is playing favorites with the veteran. Ward and Lucic were in Boston in 2011, the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. There is no real reason why Lucic should be on the ice for an average of 12 minutes a night.
The 32 year old offered up some comments postgame which could be interpreted in many different ways.
Secondary scoring showed up to win the game on Saturday but then disappeared in tonight’s performance. The Flames tallied 28 shots on goal, which is ten less from Saturday. One thing the team has struggled with is overpassing. The puck will die on players’ sticks and there is nothing to build off of.
The Flames’ biggest problem is falling behind early. They are 1-10 when entering the third period trailing. It’s almost a guaranteed loss when their opponent gets out in front. It’s as if they lose all the air in their tires. They may gain that momentum back on the off chance they score or it really is a disaster for the remainder of the game.
How much of this can you put on the players when you aren’t being given much to work with. Your top six cannot carry the team through a season whether it be shortened or not. Middle six seem to be wishy washy and then your forth line could be replaced by prospects or a beer league line.
Ward has mismanaged the team almost all season. He did not bench Lucic when he was taking multiple unnecessary penalties a night and costing the team goals. Brett Ritchie who hadn’t played in the NHL in over a year and the AHL in exactly a year, made an appearance with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for nearly 9 minutes. Not sure what you can be expected to do when Nikita Nesterov is on the ice for multiple goals against in a single game. Ward’s refusal to move Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin to the first pairing is only hurting the team. Mark Giordano has not been much of a leader this season and you have seen Captain like comments coming from “locker room bad guy” Matthew Tkachuk.
Where does the team go from here? Do the Flames throw in the towel and miss the playoffs, sparing their fans of another disappointing first round exit? Should ownership fire Ward and actually pay a head coach like Gerard Gallant? Or do we stick to the narrative that it is in fact a group of lazy players and blow up the core? Only time will tell.
The 8-8-1 Flames have struggled through the first six weeks of a condensed season. The offseason optimism seems like a fleeting feeling at this point. Was Brad Treliving wrong to only interview Geoff Ward? Is the core a problem or is mismanagement to blame? How much time can pass before the Flames wash their hands of the season?
Mismanagement is the biggest cause for concern. Geoff Ward was officially named head coach on September 14th, 2020. In his time as head coach, the Flames have gone 24-15-3. That’s not too bad considering he was working on winning over a room, coaching in the bubble, and the lack of a starting goaltender.
The Jacob Markstrom acquisition is the single best thing that happened in the Flames’ offseason. You finally have a goaltender who can carry a workload and play at a starting goalie level. The issue isn’t Markstrom. It’s with Ward’s inability to manage his workload.
David Rittich has only appeared in 4 games, starting 3. All of which have resulted in losses. He’s an easy scapegoat when he’s riding the bench and not learning from the team in front of him. It isn’t entirely his fault. How are you going to argue that you deserve to start more when you lost your job to Cam Talbot last season and there’s a talented six million dollar goalie now.
It’s time for the coaches to implement a rotational system. Get creative. Obviously, you aren’t going to do every other game basis. The Flames are currently in the middle of a 3 games in 4 days tilt. That’s a lot of work for everyone involved. After the humiliating 5-1 loss to Vancouver, things need to be reassessed.
You have a taxi squad and AHL team for a reason. When players aren’t performing, you scratch them and slot someone in who is more than capable of doing the job. Everyone is replaceable. If Sean Monahan is out for any period of time, I believe calling Glenn Gawdwin up from Stockton would be the only reasonable option.
If there’s fresh blood you want to bring in, start there.
One of Ward’s biggest mistakes this season is playing Brett Ritchie with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. There is no reason for him to be deployed with the stars of the team. He has appeared in two Flames games this season after not playing in the NHL for over a year.
Ritchie is not the player you want to be sending out there on a 4v4. He is not effective and has given Ward no sign of life to be out there. Why is Sam Bennett playing on the fourth line with Milan Lucic and Bryan Frose?
Sam Bennett. Sam Bennett was blindsided with a scratch against the Winnipeg Jets. Ward didn’t tell him personally. He found out through a piece of paper in the locker room.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Bennett told reporters. “I walked in and I was on the taxi squad and not dressing with the team, not skating with the team.”
Ward said he was using this as an opportunity to get some fresh blood in the lineup. Where is this mentality now? You have players who are generating turnover after turnover and proving to be nothing besides a liability. You could use the argument that Bennett has 9 giveaways this season but at the same time, there are defensemen who are putting up double digits still seeing the ice every night.
Matthew Tkachuk has been in a slump since the Jake Muzzin incident. I guess getting a puck thrown at you can rattle you. He’s been chasing his 100th career goal for about two weeks now and the pressure is on. The instigator we knew has been nowhere to be found. He leads the team with ( 10 ) penalty minutes and has tallied 10 points. He may be considered a ghost or phantom right now but he is still generating shots on net. He’s averaging about 3 per night which shows his confidence isn’t completely gone.
Tkachuk spoke with the media Saturday morning and puts a lot of pressure on himself, “It starts tonight and I’m prepared to do whatever I can. For me personally, I’ve got to get going. All the pressure should be on me to perform. It shouldn’t be on anyone else. I haven’t been at my best and it’s time to get going and help this team get some wins. I haven’t performed the way I’d like personally, so all the pressure should be on me to try to provide emotion from the drop of the puck tonight.”
The issue isn’t the players not giving a damn or wanting to be elsewhere. It comes back to the leaders. Is Mark Giordano doing enough as a captain? Why aren’t we seeing him talk about accountability? Is Ward truly holding the room or has he already lost it? There are so many questions when it comes to the Flames and the best thing they can do is give us answers.
Fundamentals, accountability, and teamwork. Let’s bring it back.
For the first time in nearly a week, the Calgary Flames are back. Puck drop’s at the Saddledome at 4:00pm.
Dillon Dube likely will not play, ( day to day with LBI ) did not skate during Saturday’s practice and there is no morning skate tomorrow.
Geoff Ward did say that they’ll take a look at how things look in the morning and go from there.
If Dube is unavailable, the lines will likely look like this:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Dominik Simon
Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Josh Leivo
Milan Lucic – Derek Ryan – Joakim Nordstrom
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Christopher Tanev
Juuso Valimaki – Nikita Nesterov
Things to watch:
The Flames will reunite with TJ Brodie for the first time this season, after he signed with the Maple Leafs in free agency. Brodie has been heavy on the assists so far this season with three points in six games.
Chris Tanev has been an absolute beaut for the Flames. He took time to practice and shoot around with some of the younger guys yesterday.
Not only is he playing an intricate role on the penalty kill, he is showing his leadership abilities.
Goalie Frederik Andersen’s season has not been off to a hot start. With an .898 SV% and averaging nearly 3 goals against, he’s already in playoff form.
The Flames are going to have to play another full sixty minutes of hockey on both ends of the ice. Toronto is a scary team when they’re healthy and on the same wave length. The Flames have their work cut out for them.
Puck drops at 4:00pm EST. Make sure you check back for your postgame coverage!