I think it's safe to say that Calgary is slumping to start the 2015-16 season. And it's not pretty. The Calgary Flames have a record of 3-8-1 so far this season. Not exactly the stellar start we, as Flames fans, were hoping for after last season's surprising playoff run. A lot of people are questioning the validity of last years run and wondering if it was just a stroke of luck. Others are looking for heads to roll. I prefer a more internal approach. I have questions and theories about what's going on inside the team itself. Here's my look at some of the offensive players.
With 2 goals and 5 assists so far this season, his numbers aren't the problem. His lack of finishing, failure to generate offense, turnovers in the offensive zone, and long passes are the problem. He was taken off first line right after he was given the A. I'm guessing he's frustrated but he'd never show it. I can't help but wonder, is the pressure of being an alternate captain too much for him?
He's trailing behind with 1 goal 0 assists so far in spite of the optimistic view I had of him last season. He seemed to take control, put himself into key plays, and own a confidence that proved his growth as a player. But, this season, he seems to be fading into the background. Most nights, he holds a solid place on the third line, but he doesn't seem to be trying to move up the ranks. He picks up the puck once in a while, but I don't see him in position to do much more than pass it off to another player. I'm really hoping he can regain the confidence he found last year, be more aggressive, and start shooting the puck more often.
In 11 playoff games last season, Jones gained 2 goals and 3 assists, which helped him earn a place on the Flames as the guy who shows up at just the right time. I haven't seen the presence he had last season filter into this season at all. His skating abilities are high above average, but he doesn't seem to have the same ambition as he did last year. I'd like to see him get it back soon and work his way up the line-ups again.
In 11 playoff games last season he tallied 1 goal and 3 assists. In 12 games so far this year, he's earned a mere assist. In my opinion, he has fallen into the same category as Backlund, he's disappeared this season for the most part and I wish the confidence would return that led him to become an asset on the team during the Flames playoff run.
As a comparison, Johnny Gaudreau has 1G and 11A in 12 games, while Sam Bennett has notched 5 points in 11 games and has been an offensive force on the team since he joined them last season during playoffs. In general, I have a slight problem with players who don't play to their highest potential every night and I see this in some of the players on the Flames team. This is not the only problem that I can see, but it's the one that I wanted to address right now.
By no means am I trying to single out these specific players. Every one of these players proved to us last year that they have what it takes to make this team great. I just can't seem to understand their moments of regression after their efforts last year. Some have seemingly disappeared, others seem to be struggling in spite of their effort. My hope is that they can shake off the first few games this season and get back to basics.
Hockey is a team sport and I genuinely believe that it is more than just one or two players. Chemistry has a lot to do with the success of a team and I don't see the same chemistry on this team that was so obvious last season. Something is missing or something has changed, but I just don't know what it is.
Calgary is a severely underrated team - always have been, probably always will be. Being underrated works to their advantage when they play teams who assume playing against the Flames could be an easy win. The Flames have the strength, the skill, and the potential to remain a contender again this year. I just hope that they can find that chemistry they had together last year and I hope each player can step it up a notch soon so that they can prove to everyone in the NHL that last season wasn't just a fluke.
Go Flames Go!