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The Calgary Flames are Above .500...Now What?

What’s next for a team that looked like hot garbage only weeks ago

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars yesterday, the Flames pulled their record to a respectable 14-13-2. In doing so, they moved above .500 for the very first time this season, something they only managed to do three times last year. That team also never made it to two games above .500.

That team’s grand total of days where they woke up above .500: 6

There are a few striking similarities between that team and this year’s team.

  • Both had horrid starts out of the gate
  • Both eventually hit .500 for the first time around the same point in the season (15-16: 30 games in, 16-17: 28 games in)
  • Both went above .500 for the first time by beating the Stars in Dallas,
  • Both had a 9-3-1 stretch surrounding their first trip above .500.

Okay, this is starting to get scary.

I’ll admit earlier this season when things were at their worst, I didn’t envision this team finding the ability to turn it around. Goaltending was questionable, special teams were horrid, top players weren’t being top players, nothing really looked promising.

Then Johnny Gaudreau’s injury happened at Minnesota, and that may have been the blessing in disguise that saved the Calgary Flames’ season.

Something happened. I’m not even sure if we can definitively say. We know Chad Johnson began his amazing stretch of hockey that continues to today, but something else happened.

The rest of the team seemed to buckle down, and top players slowly started playing like top players, the team became a committee both offensively and defensively. The special teams have improved drastically since that point which has been a major factor in these close one goal contests.

Here’s Special Teams stats before and after the Gaudreau injury:

Category Before % After %
PK 17/69 75% 35/41 85%
PP 6/59 10% 6/30 20%

A 10% bump in both categories has been very impressive. The 20% PP would rank the Flames 11th currently in the NHL, and the 85% PK would rank 6th. If you remove the Sabres game debacle, the penalty kill % in this stretch would hit 91.4%, good for 1st in the NHL.

So why are we celebrating .500, a number 22 of the league’s 30 teams are above? Because we’re Flames fans, and winning hasn’t come easy to us over the years. And more so because this team certainly wasn’t showing many signs of life after blowout losses to the Kings, Ducks, Stars, and Rangers before this streak started.

The Flames have thrust themselves right back into Pacific Division playoff contention, although they’ll still need to get a few more games above .500 as other teams have games in hand. Nevertheless, they’re somewhere where I didn’t think they’d find themselves again this year, at least not so quickly.

With Gaudreau’s return, all four forward lines have looked very strong and have generated impressive chemistry. The defence has been solid, and goaltending has been outstanding.

What’s next for the Flames is a fight, a fight that will likely go all season long, a fight to make the playoffs. It is a fight that the Flames need to be ready for, and can win if they bring their recent types of performances on a nightly/consistent basis.

Calgary has the chance to get two games above .500 tomorrow against the Arizona Coyotes. Puck drop is at 7:00 MT, we’ll have you covered for all your game day information.