The Calgary Flames passed the quarter mark of the season on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. As the team clawed their way yet again to within one win of .500 with their victory over Vegas last night, we wake up today to find the ground once again shifting below the team in terms of standings.
The two points earned in a 2-1 overtime victory over Vegas vaulted Calgary into the second and final Wild Card position in the Western Conference. 24 hours later, Calgary sits two spots out again after Nashville and Arizona picked up wins overnight. Currently five organizations sit within two points of one another in the battle to solidify a lead for the two final tickets to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
To add to the confusion, not all teams have played the same number of games. Nashville (22) and Arizona (22) each lead Calgary (21) by one point but have a game in hand. Seattle currently sits tied with Calgary in points (21), but have played one game more and trail by two in the Regulation Wins department.
In other words, complete and total chaos.
With that said, perhaps now is a prime opportunity to take a step back and assess the performance of the Calgary Flames on the player level.
Elias Lindholm – B
5 goals 10 assists 15 points in 22 games played.
The 28-year-old has delivered well enough given the circumstances. An evolving first line in a brand new system hasn’t helped things. Lindholm is shooting a bit below (9.1%) his career average of 12.4% and that reflects on his lower-end goal total. He projects for a 19 goal, 56-point season over 82 games. Is that kind of production worthy of a major UFA payday?
Andrew Mangiapane – B
5 goals 8 assists 13 points in 21 games played.
It was difficult to project Mangiapane properly at the beginning of the season. He had just recovered from shoulder surgery, and it wasn’t in stone where he would play in the lineup.
So far, the 27 year old has looked solid if unspectacular on Lindholm’s left flank. His speed to the outside on the rush needs to be more present. As do his elite puck protection skills on the boards. Interestingly enough, the Bolton, Ontario native is on pace to more than double his penalty minute record (40). Right now he’s on pace for 104 minutes in the box.
Yegor Sharangovich – B+
5 goals 5 assists 10 points in 22 games played
Like many players on the roster, Sharangovich got his game going in November. Four goals and four assists in 12 games makes giving up Tyler Toffoli for him and a third round pick look a little less one-sided.
Yegor is a fixture on the penalty kill and has recently been deployed as a shooter on the power play. His shootout prowess is also an asset. He’s the only flames player to put one past an opposing goaltender in that format and he’s done it twice in three attempts.
Connor Zary – A+
3 goals 7 assists 10 points in 12 games played
It’s impossible to give Zary anything less than an A+. The 22-year-old brings poise and direction on both the power play and at even strength. The group is 2-7-1 without him in the lineup. Need we go on?
Nazem Kadri – A
4 goals 10 assists 14 points in 22 games played
Initially a lightning rod for criticism, Kadri has bounced back well following a one goal, one assist, -11 October. His three goals and nine assists lead the Flames over 13 November games.
Martin Pospisil – A
3 goals 2 assists 5 points in 12 games played
The final addition to the ZKP Line has calmed down after recording five points in his first seven games. His speed through the neutral zone has been an X-factor in keeping the opposition on their heels. Currently on a five-game pointless streak, the 24-year-old may need a lineup shuffle or a game off to reset.
Jonathan Huberdeau – C
4 goals 9 assists 13 points in 22 games played.
The trials and tribulations of Jonathan Huberdeau are certainly unique. Just when he starts to heat up offensively, the 30-year-old from St. Jerome will have some form of on-ice gaffe that appears to smash whatever confidence he had built up over the previous few days.
Mikael Backlund – B+
4 goals 6 assists 10 points in 22 games played.
The freshly appointed captain has once again been a workhorse on the defensive side of the puck. The 34-year-old is second to only Elias Lindholm among forwards in penalty kill minutes (54:52) and ranks first defensive zone starts (71). Despite his responsibilities as a shutdown center on the team, Backlund has an expected goals percentage of 55.7% in his favour per NaturalStatTrick.
Blake Coleman – A
6 goals 6 assists 12 points in 22 games played.
Backlund’s wingman at both even strength and the penalty kill, Coleman’s hot November (four goals and five assists in 13 games) has been essential to their month-two turnaround.
Jakob Pelletier – N/A
A preseason shoulder injury requiring surgery took the 22-year-old out of the picture indefinitely in late September. The Quebec native has recently resumed skating again and is something to look forward to in the coming months.
AJ Greer – A-
4 goals 4 assists 8 points in 21 games played.
Picked up off waivers from Boston on Oct. 9, Greer was a pleasant surprise through the first quarter. His four goals and four assists project him to a 15 goal, 15 assist season while playing limited minutes. Initially pegged as a guy to stand up for the team in the presence of on-ice opposing intimidation, Greer has shown he can make an impact on the score sheet as well.
Adam Ruzicka – C
3 goals 3 assists 6 points in 17 games played.
Unlike most of the Flames players, Adam Ruzicka has had a rough November. A questionable hit from Jimmy Vesey of the New York Rangers on Oct. 24 put the 6’4” Slovak out of commission until Nov. 7. The former member of the Sarnia Sting has one goal and one assist in ten games since then. His one offensive oasis came on Nov. 24 with a two-point performance against the Dallas Stars.
Dillon Dube – C
3 goals 4 assists 7 points in 21 games played.
Dube has moments, glimpses of the impact player that he could be for the Calgary Flames – that appears to be all he has so far. 15 of 21 games have seen the 24-year-old go pointless. The speedy all-positions forward needs to find the elements of his game that brought him success in the past; blazing speed through the neutral zone, a quick release when jumping on loose pucks, the patience to wait for the right pass to emerge. All missing through Q1.
Walker Duehr – D+
1 goal 3 assists 4 points in 14 games played.
The South Dakotan joins Adam Ruzicka in the I Hate November Club. Only one assist in five games and a severely diminished role. The 26-year-old has averaged 6:16 of ice time per game this season.
Matt Coronato – C+
1 goal 1 assists 2 points in 10 NHL games played.
With seven goals and eight assists in 12 games with the AHL Wranglers, the question is not if the 21-year-old will get a callup, but when. His pace in the minors projects to 83 points in 66 games.
Dryden Hunt – C
0 goals 0 assists 0 points in 4 games played.
The tenacious winger failed to get on the scoresheet during a late October cup of coffee. The Cranbrook, BC native brings a high-energy style and may get another look before season’s end.
MacKenzie Weegar – A
5 goals 6 assists 11 points in 22 games played.
The most recent OT hero has been turning up his game of late. Four goals and four assists in 13 November games has Weegar now tied for team lead in points among defensemen.
Rasmus Andersson – A
3 goals 8 assists 11 points in 18 games played.
Calgary’s number one blue liner has provided a steady presence while eating up 24:09 per night. An even 5v5 goal differential against the league’s best forwards is exactly what you hope for in a top pairing defender.
Noah Hanifin – B+
4 goals 6 assists 10 points in 22 games played.
Hanifin’s production is particularly impressive given his second pairing role. It’s yet to be determined whether Noah will be a Calgary Flame heading into next season. His quality of play may just price him out of Alberta.
Chris Tanev – A-
0 goals 5 assists 5 points in 22 games played.
A consummate warrior, Tanev leads all Flames players in penalty kill time on ice by a vast margin (65:10) and has allowed only seven goals against in that format. The recipient of 12 stitches to the chin after blocking a shot with his face against Vegas is yet to miss a game this season despite working through a number of aches and pains.
Nikita Zadorov – C+
1 goal 5 assists 6 points in 21 games played.
Sparking controversy with a trade request on Nov. 10 after a low-ice time game against Toronto, Zadorov’s production has fallen off the map. One goal and one assist in his last ten appearances. The 6’6”, 248lb defender will need to execute more concisely if he wants a raise this offseason. The towering Russian put up 14 goals last season and none of them on the power play.
Dennis Gilbert – B
0 goals 1 assists 1 points in 13 games played.
A derby for the sixth spot on the Flames blue line has quietly been running between Gilbert, Nick DeSimone and Jordan Oesterle. Gilbert’s physical presence currently has him holding the role. The Buffalo, New York native has managed to stay out of the penalty box beyond a row with Nashville’s Michael McCarron since getting back into the lineup on Nov 22.
Nick DeSimone – C+
0 goals 4 assists 4 points in 8 games played.
Nick’s more offensive brand of hockey has been a wild ride over eight games this season. Six goals for and six goals against at even strength in such a small sample size may be too volatile of a statistic for Flames coaching staff.
Jordan Oesterle – C-
0 Goals 0 assists 0 points in 4 games played.
The 31-year-old dipped out of the derby on Nov. 1, but remains an option should one of the more offense-oriented Flames defensemen need an injury break.
Ilya Solovyov – B-
0 Goals 0 assists 0 points in 2 games played.
The 23-year-old Belarussian was baptized by fire during a brief call up. A -3 even strength goal differential isn’t ideal over two games, but Solovyov showed promise in his own end while averaging 16:35 of ice time.
Jacob Markstrom – A
5-7-2 Sv%: .901 GAA: 2.93
Markstrom has showed absolute resilience in bouncing back from a nightmare 2022-2023 season. Calgary’s best player through October has lived up to his $6,000,000 cap hit.
Daniel Vladar – B
4-2-1 Sv%: .883 GAA: 3.20
Calgary’s go-to backup had his strongest game of the 2023-2024 campaign on Nov. 27 with a 27 save, .964 performance. Time will tell if the third round pick in 2015 can build on that positive, but Vladar has done his job in staying around a .500 points percentage on his record.
Dustin Wolf – B
0-1-0 Sv%: .895 GAA: 4.02
The blue chip goaltending prospect was victim of a poor Calgary performance in front of him on Nov. 11 against the Ottawa Senators. Tipped shots, blinding net-front traffic and a support staff of tired Flames players playing the second half of a road back-to-back. No cause for concern.