The Calgary Flames have to be in the grouping of this years most disappointing teams. Last year, they were nicknamed the “Comeback Kids” and made the playoffs with 97 points. The Flames were 15 games over .500, and finished 8th in the league with 241 goals for. They were one of the best teams when in the league when it came to closing late 3rd period deficits, and turning them into overtime wins or shootout wins. They finished 3rd in their Pacific Division, one year after they picked 4th in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. They were one of the surprise teams of 2014-15, with the way they went from 27th place, to their playoff berth
This year, the Flames are even struggling to compete with the cellar dwellers. Their current record is 26-34-4, good enough for 29th place with 56 points. Through 64 games last season, Calgary had 74 points and a record of 35-25-4. The Flames had 177 goals scored and 150 goals allowed, which was a + 27 goal differential. The Flames finished off the season a respectable 10-5-3, which helped them lock up the final spot in their division.
So far, the Flames have 173 goals for, which is only 4 goals off of last year, so the team isn’t struggling to score goals which is different from their bottom com-padres. The Flames goal scoring is good enough for 13th in the NHL, which should produce a lot more wins. Next statistic? Goals allowed. The Flames have allowed a whopping 203 goals, which is 2nd worst in the NHL. The Flames allowed a total of 216 goals last season. They almost have that mark with 18 games remaining. They allow an average of a smudge above 3 goals a game, so they will easily pass that mark, if they continue the season trend. Luckily, even at this pace, it won’t match last years three teams battling for the bottom’s totals in goals allowed. Buffalo finished in 30th and allowed 274 goals, Arizona finished in 29th and allowed 272, Edmonton finished in 28th and allowed the most at 283.
The Flames were sellers on Mondays Trade Deadline, shipping out UFA’s David Jones and Kris Russel, along with RFA Markus Granlund a few weeks ago. The Flames currently sit 14 points back of a wildcard spot, so them taking on rental players made little sense, and would’ve had the league laughing at them.
The most surprising deal? Moving Jiri Hudler. This made little sense to me, as last season he dominated with the young duo of Sean Monahan and Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau. Last season Hudler had a career year with the youngsters posting a ridiculous 76 points in 78 games (31 goals and 45 assists). Hurdler’s highest point total before last season was way back in 2008-09 when he had 57 points in 82 games (23 goals, and 34 assists) with the Detroit Red Wings. Hudler was dealt to the Florida Panthers for what seems to be a steal. The Panthers gave up a 2016 2nd round pick and 2018 4th round pick for a player who was just starting to turn around his down season. Hudler had 35 points in 53 games this season with the Flames, which by no means is anywhere close to his point per game pace last year, but over a 82 games, he could’ve cracked 20 goals, and had close to 40 assists.
Unless Calgary knew Hudler was not going to resign with them come the offseason, this move was a big mistake. Hudler’s chemistry with their 2 most important young pieces, is invaluable to this team, definitely not worth a late 2nd round pick and a 2018 4th round pick. Could Hudler return to Calgary once free agency hits, and sign a 2 year deal to finish his career a Flame? Wouldn’t surprise me, but the market will give him a good contract that Calgary may not want to keep up with.
The Flames have had to ride the combo of Joni Ortio and Jonas Hiller ever since Karri Ramo suffered a season ending injury back on February 11th, tearing his ACL. The Ortio-Hiller combo has a 3.34 and 3.41 goals against average respectively. Ramo had a much better 2.63 GAA, and the team is in a nose dive since his injury. The Flames were able to squeak out a win, in the game Ramo was hurt, but including that game, their last 12 games are pitiful. The Flames record is 2-9-1 with a 7 game winless streak. The Catalyst the Flames downfall has definitely been Karri Ramo’s season ending, as stable goaltending cannot be found in Calgary.
The Flames are only 4 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for 30th place, and should be a definite contender for the bottom. If Calgary’s tendy situation stays in flux, you can count on them finishing in the bottom three.