With the Calgary Flames somehow already somehow sitting at the 1⁄4 mark of their season (I guess time does really fly when you’re having fun), it is time for our quarter season report cards! The Flames have gone a very impressive 12-3-5 to start the season, one of their best marks in franchise history. They sit first in the Western Conference on points and points percentage and also look to be making this run in a very sustainable way.
Thank you to those who took the time to vote the last couple of days in our fan surveys and submit player grades. Here are all of the results with the surveys first:
Q1. Are you confident in Darryl Sutter as coach of the Flames?
Yes = 98.5%, No = 0%, Maybe = 1.5%
Sutter has seen a huge jump in fan confidence from our 2020-21 end of season report cards when just 54% of voters were confident that he would be the right coach to lead the team forward. Obviously he is the biggest reason why the team has found the success it has through the first 20 games, and now we will see if he can help the maintain it the rest of the way.
Q2. Are you confident in Brad Treliving as the Flames GM?
Yes = 47.3%, No = 13.5%, Maybe = 39.1%
Treliving has also seen fan confidence level rise in him, but not nearly by the same amount Sutter has. In May he had a 43.2% confidence rating and is now up to 47.3%. The biggest thing is that a large portion of his no crowd his fallen off, going from 36.5% to 13.5%. Losing out on Eichel likely hurt some of his rep, but the team finding the success it has to start the year has bought him some time. However, still having less than 1⁄2 the fans confidence isn’t a great spot to be, but is fair based on the past.
Q3. Who is the biggest priority to re-sign after this season?
Gaudreau = 54.1%, Tkachuk = 24.2% Mangiapane = 19.8% Kylington = 1.9%
This is a pretty straightforward answer given that Gaudreau is the only one of the four that is an unrestricted free agent after this year. All four of them have done more than enough to earn hefty raises before next season.
Q4. Do the Flames need to name a captain in the near future?
Yes = 35.4%, No = 64.6%
This is an interesting development as last offseason, we had roughly 60% of people saying that the Flames should name a captain before the season. Yet the team chose not to and so far it really looks like the burden of leadership is being distributed across the team and they are playing very well for each other. I would not be shocked to see the team go the entire season without naming a captain if they maintain this success.
Q5. Who is the Flames MVP through the first 20 games?
Markstrom = 42.2%, Gaudreau 27.2%, Mangiapane 22.3%, Others = 8.3%
Not a lot of shocking results here as Markstrom has been simply elite through the first 20 games, highlighted by his five shutouts. Gaudreau and Mangiapane have been sensational as well, but it seems like a good thing when you can make legitimate cases for a handful of players.
Q6. Are you confident in the direction of the Flames?
Yes = 95.1%, No = 4.9%
This is by far the biggest change of any of the polls since it was last asked at the end of last season. At the time, fan morale was at an all-time low and just 26.7% of fans felt good about the direction of the team. That’s a 68.4% growth in a relatively short period of time with relatively little being done to the main pieces of the team. We will see how these results evolve when asked again at the 41 game mark of the year.
Report Card Grades
Here are the results of the poll, thank you to those who took the time to fill it all out. We actually didn’t have a player grade below a C- in this round, perhaps due to fans being in a good mood due to the success. Remember this is an accumulation of fan/reader grades, not my personal grades, so don’t yell at me please and thank you.
TOP OF THE CLASS
A+ = Johnny Gaudreau, Andrew Mangiapane, Jacob Markstrom, Dan Vladar
All four of these players have been sensational to start the year! It’s probably a good things when your both of your goaltenders grade out into the A+ range.
A = Elias Lindholm, Oliver Kylington, Chris Tanev
What more can be said about that pairing? We knew Tanev would be good again, but the jump we’ve seen from Kylington was so unexpected but now we get to sit back and see just how good he gets. Lindholm has been his absolutely solid self again as well with 22 points in 20 games.
A- = Matthew Tkachuk
Doesn’t quite the fully rounded A, but Chucky has been very good this season and definitely seems closer to his old self than what we saw at the end of last year.
B+ = Milan Lucic, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson
Looch is a fan favourite and his been playing his role very well on the team this year, so there’s lots of love there. Andersson has taken a step forward this year after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign while Hanifin has been steady but not quite at the level we saw last year. All in all, this trio is a group that you know what you’re going to get every night.
B = Mikael Backlund, Erik Gudbranson
Backlund has become a notorious player for starting slow, but this year at the very least he is filling his role well as a defensive center and has eight points in 20 games which is a bit below his typical average, but not too far. He’s been fine, but we’re hoping to see him turn it on like as things continue he has in previous full seasons. Gudbranson is a stunning B frankly after the train wreck that was the regular season. He has been a fairly reliable third pairing and PK guy so far this year. Hats off to him.
B- = Blake Coleman
C+ = Dillon Dube, Trevor Lewis
I wanted to center this section on Coleman and Dube who both been okay this year, but we have seen some glimpses of what they can achieve. Coleman has been pretty strong as a defensive forward, but fans would like to see a bit more at the other end of the ice as well. That should come with time as he continues to settle in with the club. Dube on the other hand has struggled to make a steady impact but again, we see flashes of what he can be. Lewis is a good team guy to have around, no complaints there.
NEEDS SOME IMPROVEMENT
C = Brad Richardson, Nikita Zadorov
Both of these players have given us more or less what we expected of them. We would like Zadorov to be a bit more steady out there, but he still hasn’t been the complete trainwreck like we expected or from what we saw in the preseason.
C- = Sean Monahan, Tyler Pitlick, Brett Ritchie, Juuso Valimaki
This is the group of guys who have to work their way out of the fan doghouse. Ritchie gets a bit of a pass because he’s been injured, but his role has also been made redundant by other similar players stepping up in his absence. Monahan has struggled to get anywhere close to his previous levels as returned from a hip injury. While we do want to cut him some slack, he just simply doesn’t look like the same player anymore. Pitlick has been fine, but when you’re paying him $1.75M and gave up a pick for him, you’d like to see a bit more of him. He’s flown under the radar more often than not most nights.
For Valimaki, he has lost his job in the lineup and only has played in one of the last dozen games. The issue is that he really didn’t do anything to fully earn a spot while in the lineup, and he will really have to shine to outdo the intangibles that Sutter sees in Zadorov’s physical play to have a shot.