Yesterday the Calgary Flames posted their 10th straight victory. It’s been quite a run for a team that’s season was in peril in early January. Now, the Flames are hockey’s hottest team and has leapfrogged over Vegas for the best record in the Pacific.
During their double-digit streak, the Flames have only beaten three current postseason teams, including mopping up the Golden Knights 6-0. Calgary have been sharp in bother ends, outscoring their opponents 42-15 over that ten-game span. The Flames are getting outstanding efforts from their offense, defense, and goaltending.
I don’t put a lot into 10 in a row, unless they were 10 in a row in the playoffs. -Darryl Sutter, CGY coach
Matching Offensive Talent
What makes Calgary so dangerous for Vegas is their ability to match skill in offensive and defensive positions. Slickster Johnny Gaudreau (20 Goals, 43 Assists) is having a borderline MVP season for the Flames. He’s a 1.31 point per game player and he’s on a line with two other forwards that have scored 20 or more goals this season. Gaudreau’s center, Elias Lindholm is having a fabulous season as well and some expect he’ll pick up Selke votes. But it doesn’t end there. It’s unfair to compare the two because of injuries, but the Golden Knights have one player with 20 goals and the Flames have four. With the addition of Tyler Toffoli, the Flames will have multiple offensive options in the playoffs.
Ten in a row is nice. It looks good. We were struggling a little before we started this streak. It was nice to see it go in. Ten in a row feels pretty good. -Elias Lindholm, CGY center
With the addition of Jack Eichel, Calgary will have their hands full as well. The Golden Knights new top-line center will neutralize some of the Flames’ talent. For instance, Lindholm will be too busy covering Eichel that his offense might suffer. Eichel’s vision will find seams and his speed will create problems for Calgary’s NBA-sized defense.
I don’t think any of us expect it to be too long. (Eichel) will still be an impact player right away but we all understand it’s going to take a little bit of time for him. Even if he feels 75% of where he was a year ago that it’s pretty darn good. –Alex Pietrangelo, 32 Thoughts Podcast
Markstrom Leads The Way
The Flames are anchored by one of the most efficient goaltenders in hockey. Statistically, the 32-year-old Jacob Markstrom is having a career year. He’s second in the NHL with 2.06 Goals Allowed Average and second in Save Percentage (.928). Nevertheless, Vegas isn’t distracted by Markstrom’s success.
The Golden Knights have faced the Swedish goaltender a dozen times over their five-year existence and they’ve had success. On average the former Canucks goalie allows the Golden Knights to score an astounding 3.61 goals per game. Vegas has an 8-4-0 regular season record and more importantly a 3-1 postseason record against Markstrom.
The constants we’re being asked about are the streak and how many goals we’re scoring. You’ve got to play low scoring games, that’s very simple. For this outfit here, that’s the way it’s going to work. -Sutter, CGY coach
In their last two playoff exits, the Golden Knights struggled against big defensive units. In last season’s semifinal, the Canadiens blueliners were more like linebackers. Monsters like Shea Weber made Vegas work for every chance on net. Montreal’s average defender was 6’3″, 210 lbs. The same thing happened in the postseason bubble. Dallas eliminated Vegas in five games with a big help from their enormous defense. The Stars’ average defender was 6’4″, 217 lbs. Each unit used their size in the defensive zone never giving up an inch.
In Calgary, the average defender is 6’4″ and weighs 218 lbs. The Flames decided to go just as tall and just as wide. It’ll be a test for Calgary if they face off against a big, healthy, and hungry Vegas lineup.
There have been reports that Calgary is interested in another defenseman with size. The Flames made a splash for Toffoli earlier in the month and likely will make another move. Calgary’s front office may be even more aggressive at the deadline in preparation for a potential matchup with the Golden Knights.
So, why are the Flames a legitimate threat to the Golden Knights this season? Because they’re rich in talent, and have role players that will make it challenging for Vegas or any other contender. It starts with the top all the way down to the players. Their leader, Sutter is a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach that isn’t all that impressed by a ten-game winning streak.
As for Vegas? Well, they have a new weapon, a loaded roster, and a proven track record. Eichel is potentially one of the most dangerous centers in the Western Conference and might be the piece to get Vegas back to the Final. But for now, we’ll have to be patient and wait another three days before the next game.
Great article Ken I really enjoyed reading it! One of the most important things I would add is Flames have been healthiest team in the NHL this season. They have had 12 players not miss a game this year and two players only miss one game all season. At some point odds are Covid-19 or injuries will play a role in the future but I could be wrong.
THE hockey GOD
Jason wrote it
the only thing in Flames negative is the vast amount of games they have to play to make for all the lost games, if you consider that a negative.
And I brought this whole scenario up weeks ago. Finally someone paying attention.
a dollar short
a day long
Thanks THG, I totally missed it was from Jason.
I side a note according to Tankathon.com we have the 3rd easiest remaining schedule and Calgary has the 10th easiest.
I thought the flames were caught up or are only 2 games behind vegas, 1 behind the kings etc. It’s close.
THE hockey GOD
@blitz, the Flames still have a boat load of games to play in short period of time. The are playing four more games than VGK over the same time frame.
March picks up the pace for both teams, I expect the Flames to start
feeling the impact of their tough grind. Or else, VGK and west is in big trouble. While VGK had a relatively pedestrian pace during February, Calgary did not. Both have four back to backs through end of March, and Flames will have more road trips as vast majority of these make up games have been at their home rink.
We shall see if they can keep it up. Some teams thrive on lots of work, other teams fall apart.
Calgary looks like “the” pacific team this year. They have skill all over and great goal tending and that Toffoli trade was excellent. They are upper middle of the road for cap, but if they think they are good enough to make a run, and I think they are, I would imagine a deadline improvement. To me they are the scariest playoff team early for VGK. Hopefully the April 14th matchup will give a better feeling than the last game.
On the other hand. I see LA as a potential issue for vegas as well. I think in the current form the VGK have a solid shot at getting through them in the playoffs, but LA is sitting on a good amount of cap space. A solid team with cap space can be a great team by playoffs.
I am sit waiting on the that flip to be switched to make me see/feel like this team is better than I see/feel right now. Maybe its health, maybe it’s a trade, maybe it’s Eichel’s comfort level. Something.
THE hockey GOD
or maybe VGK flips some players at trade deadline
with some muckers ?
Last time I checked CGY had 3 games in hand. Will check again. So, that’s not a vast amount of games. Obviously, if they win those that’s just another 6 points we’d have to make up.
I haven’t been tuning in to CGY on nhl66.ir much but 10 in a row is nothing to sneeze at even if only 3 were playoff teams.
I am currently still of the opinion that there are too many “issues” for the VGK as or right now. There are so many that I don’t see VGK making it past round 2. I think worst case scenario is they get in as a wild card. Best case scenario is likely 3rd place in the Pacific. I am hoping for 2nd place, but I have yet to see enough consistency on the ice to feel good about it.
I still think too many new faces too fast, too many injuries, awful performance on the 1-1-3, lack of chemistry, identity and toughness. That’s a lot of negativity.
On the sunny side, Eichel is looking good, Patches got 2, Carrier looked great and Logan Thompson appears to be the real deal right now. If DeBoer can keep these lines together to get them clicking, all the better.
All in all, there are way too many teams right now who I believe are better contenders for the Stanley Cup (CAR, TBL, FLA, TOR, CGY and CAR). There are a bunch of other teams who will give VGK a tough time like LAK, EDM, NYR, PIT, BOS, WSH, & ANA).
Any word on The Walrus’ condition? I hope he’s out for the season, but the rumor has it he’s coming back possibly as early as Friday.
And you left out AVS as a legit contender? You forget about them?
I was wrong on Calgary from early on in the season. I knew they had a good team but for whatever reason they could just never play up to their potential. Right now they are playing really good. The fact that VGK got destroyed last time up against tgeFlanes should worry them as well. VGK has gotten better offensively, but not defensively or in net, which is a concern
Worrying about play off competition. Is a little premature. They need to make the play off which is no guarantee. Their focus needs to be on the next game and the next etc. Nothing else matters at this point.
Wondering if/when Zadorov is going to crush Eichel like he did in Buffalo.