Time For Flames To Park Markstrom For More Vladar … again
The Calgary Flames starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s numbers haven’t rebounded and it’s time the team rolls with Dan Vladar down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs.
It’s time to stop calling Jacob Markstrom the Calgary Flames’ starting goaltender.
Time to stop giving him the majority of starts by default. Time to recognize something is off that may not be corrected — at least not this season.
It’s time to let Dan Vladar tackle two thirds of the next 28 games. If not more.
Markstrom may be the man come playoff time, but the Flames may not get there at this rate.
Barring more consistency from the Calgary Flames — not just Markstrom, but every player — the team will have to watch and wait to see what its Western Conference opponents do to see where they land in the standings.
It’s no way to live.
After a crushing 4-3 overtime loss in which the Flames allowed the Ottawa Senators to come back from a 3-1 deficit with a little more than two minutes left in regulation, the Flames were fortunate to find themselves holding the last wildcard spot.
The Colorado Avalanche were in position to pass them with a win or tie over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
The lost point after a dominant game against a lesser opponent stings. And while the Senators deserved full marks for the comeback and forcing overtime, the winning goal is one that had to be stopped.
The players weren’t blaming the goaltender. And Markstrom doesn’t own the loss completely. The Flames could have scored one more in the first 57 minutes,or in the overtime. They could have been on the puck quicker while the Sens had the extra attacker out there for the final few minutes.
“We had a chance to close it out. We let them get in the zone, I guess, and we just didn't do a good job of killing plays, getting the puck out,” Flames winger Tyler Toffoli said post-game. “Obviously they capitalized and tied it up. And then three-on-three, again we had a chance to close them out, hit the post, and they go down and score.”
It’s that last sentence that echoes.
They went down and scored on Markstrom. It was a great player, who made a good shot. But Markstrom is supposed to be a great goaltender who makes the big saves in the timely moments. He simply hasn’t done that enough this season.
The other guy has been doing it more frequently. He’s the guy who should be getting the majority of starts at a point in the season where winning is more important than … anything.
The team needs to stop looking at Markstrom’s struggles as something that needs to be resolved to have success. Instead, they should make a more direct switch and get the most out of Vladar’s strong play while they still have a shot at having any debate about who should start in the playoffs. Markstrom's save percentage is sub .900. His goals-against average is creeping toward 3.00, with zero shutouts. Zero. He had nine last year. Markstrom's far from the guy who almost won the Vezina Trophy last season.
Yet dollar signs and stubbornness seem to go hand in hand.
Markstrom is the Calgary Flames’ $6-million man.
Head coach Darryl Sutter has steadfastly suggested through both actions and words that Markstrom is the guy, and that he needs to play.
I’ve been firmly in that camp for most of the season, too.
But there comes a point in time when plans need to change.
That time is now.