November 27, 2022

In September, it was just a little shocking to listen to Flames GM Brad Treliving say the crew’s purpose was to make the playoffs.

On the time, we reasoned, this was a method for Treliving to handle rising expectations after a much less fascinating season. Since then, supervisor Daryl Sutter has reiterated those self same ambitions for his membership. Contemplating how the Flames have performed up so far, not leaning into the hype that was positioned on them earlier than the season proved to be a clever strategy.

That gained’t cease some folks from questioning concerning the Flames and whether or not or not they’re actually Stanley Cup contenders. However not less than you possibly can’t accuse Treliving or Sutter of overselling.

After shedding 2-1 in a shootout to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night time, the Flames have been within the first of two playoff spots on American Thanksgiving morning, an unofficial benchmark of kinds for NHL groups in figuring out whether or not or to not make the playoffs. qualifiers. There are, in fact, anomalies just like the St. Louis Blues who had a shedding document on Thanksgiving in 2018 and have been the final to start out the 2019 calendar 12 months earlier than successful the Cup that summer time. Final season, the Colorado Avalanche completed second on the wild card record after beginning the 12 months slowly, riddled with accidents and COVID-19 instances, earlier than successful all of it.

Up to now, the Flames haven’t reached the heights of final 12 months’s crew. They collected 21 factors, eight fewer than they did final 12 months whereas additionally having three fewer wins. The Flames even have a purpose distinction of -3 (one among 5 groups at present in, or tied for, a play-off place with a unfavorable purpose distinction), they usually don’t have the identical offensive high quality they boasted final 12 months on the high. Line.

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Goalkeepers Jakob Markström and Daniel Vladar each put in strong performances, however their stats go away lots to be desired. Markstrom’s save share is 0.889 with a 3.03 goals-against common and is tied for fourth most objectives allowed by a goaltender who has performed not less than 4 video games this season. Vladar’s numbers have been barely higher in fewer matches.

Regardless of these negatives, this crew nonetheless has the advantage of the doubt in relation to postseason alternatives. MoneyPuck The Flames have the sixth-best possibilities of making the playoffs – higher than any crew at present in a wild card place – and the eighth-best possibilities of successful the Stanley Cup. Right here’s a deeper take a look at why the Flames ought to be seen as a playoff crew with aspirations past their present place within the standings.

On paper the roster nonetheless seems to be like a qualifying crew

That was the case when the season started and the uneven begin hasn’t modified: The Flames nonetheless have a noteworthy roster. Place depth is a necessity for qualifying groups, and the highest three in Elias Lindholm, Nazim Kadri and Mikael Backlund are greater than appropriate for that. The Flames’ defensive depth was examined early on with accidents however nonetheless has strong choices in Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, MacKenzie Weegar and Nikita Zadorov, who get rave opinions from Sutter. Markstrom and Vladar ought to be higher, however in addition they had moments the place they confirmed what they’re able to. Jonathan Huberdeau will not be taking part in on the highest line in the intervening time, however he’s nonetheless an impressive striker who helps make the centre-forward look nice.

Markstrom, particularly, made some high quality saves at key moments regardless of not having one of the best numbers. There’s nonetheless time for him to regain the shape that noticed him attain the Vezina last final season.

Video games, sequence and the Stanley Cup should not gained on paper. However the Flames nonetheless appear to be a crew that may make folks assume they will win the playoffs.

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Overcoming adversity early

The Flames didn’t have a shedding streak longer than 4 video games final season. in accordance with ManGamesLostThe 2021-22 Flames suffered the fewest video games misplaced by males, with 92. In that sequence, Chris Tanev was injured, Markstrom’s goaltending was less than par, and the Oilers overcame their very own troubles en path to a sequence win.

This 12 months’s Flames crew overcomes main roster adjustments and difficulties with the intention to set up chemistry. Calgary’s depth has been examined with beforehand scratched gamers like Adam Rosica and call-ups like Dennis Gilbert. Let’s not overlook the seven-game winless streak because the Flames blew the lead and struggled towards smaller, sooner groups, battling few groups within the Japanese Convention after spending a lot of the first month of the season at residence.

The entire time, there was no rush to hit the panic button.

The Flames nonetheless want to enhance in sure areas, however they’ve a roster that understands that common seasons have their ebbs and flows. When requested about how the crew dealt with the early-season rollercoaster after the Flames’ victory over the Panthers final weekend, Weegar praised the “vary of personalities” of gamers from the core and past.

“It’s not like we have been taking part in badly. Each recreation has been shut,” Wegar stated. “Now, hopefully issues begin to click on and we get some bounces to come back our method.”

New gamers nonetheless want time to have enjoyable

Weegar continues to be searching for his first purpose with the Flames and solely has 5 assists, however in any other case he’s been taking part in nicely within the second defensive double, with both Tanev or Zadorov. These days, Huberdeau has appeared like a dedicated and productive participant, however we didn’t anticipate him to play alongside Backlund and Blake Coleman. Kadri has been quiet over the past three matches, however he’s acquired off to a terrific begin and there have been no actual points together with his placement within the squad.

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He will not be on the degree some may need but, however the Flames’ new gamers actually aren’t dragging the crew down. So long as they aren’t commitments, Flames can nonetheless be affected person as they proceed to settle and regulate to Sutter’s system.

Different groups are nonetheless desirous about it

Unsure for those who seen, however the distinction was all over when it got here to the strains. The New Jersey Devils, whose followers booed head coach Lindy Ruff initially of the season, have simply hit a 13-game successful streak. The St. Louis Blues actually gave the impression to be completed after they have been on an eight-game successful streak. They’re at present second within the Western Convention, tied with Minnesota State, Edmonton, and Nashville.

Whereas there’s all the time room for a crew like Seattle to proceed taking part in above expectations and safe a playoff spot, the Flames are in an analogous place with a handful of groups which have the potential to interrupt out.

(Photograph by Elias Lindholm and Sidney Crosby: Charles LeClaire / USA Right now)