Things are Looking Good in Calgary
Last season, the Calgary Flames started off good. They ended October at 5-5-2, good for 12 points in 12 games. But after that, the young Flames fell off, and ended up with the 4th pick in the draft where they took Sam Bennett out of Kingston. This year, they did the same thing, but even better. Through November, a week before Thanksgiving, the Flames are 11-6-2, with 24 points in 19 games. They sit 3rd in goals for, and 17th in goals against. Mark Giordano has emerged as one of the top defensemen in the league, a title which few gave him last season, and is sixth in the league in points with 21. His partner, TJ Brodie, also has 15 points. The addition of Jonas Hiller has undoubtedly helped this team, as has Johnny Gaudreau’s first full year, but will they be able to keep it up?
I reference this team to the Colorado Avalanche’s team last year. A young team, filled with good talent like Giodano, Monahan, Gaudreau, Brodie, Baertschi, and a mix of veteran presence with Glencross, Hudler, and Raymond. Karri Ramo played great last year, and is now the backup, providing a good one-two punch. Both he and Hiller support a GAA below 2.80 and a SV% above .900.
There’s another striking similarity between this season’s Flames and last season’s Avalanche: puck possession. In this new age, possession number are an integral part to the game. Take last season in Colorado, zero players on their current roster finished with a CF% over 50.0. This season in Calgary, only Sven Baertschi sits at a 50.0, with everyone else, including top pairing Giordano-Brodie, below that mark. Both teams are young and fast, and have the ability to mask those number, as they did and have been doing, and as we’ve seen this year, can have you regress big time.
Back to this season. The Flames have a real shot at the playoffs. They have been playing exceptional, even with the likes of Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan, Joe Colborne, and Mikael Backlund, all regular players, on the IR. This is also the first year that they have had a really solid #1 goalie, the previously mentioned Jonas Hiller.
If the Flames keep rolling, especially before they get their whole healthy roster back, they will have a real shot at the playoffs. But, it would be foolish to abandon the rebuild and send away assets just to make a deep run, especially with Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Chicago standing in their way. Stick with what you’ve been doing, stick with the rebuild, and keep building for future seasons. This team will be even scarier once Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau reach their full potential, and as Sean Monahan gets even better. Be weary though, the possession numbers, which I only scratched the surface of, will catch up to them, whether in January, April, or October of 2015. Led by a good core of players, plus Brian Burke as president and Brad Treliving heading the front office, things are looking pretty good in Calgary.