I don’t think it’s any real big secret that the Calgary Flames need some help putting pucks in the net. Just look at their Thursday night loss to the horrendous Ottawa Senators who hadn’t played in 12 days. Calgary had 28 shots on goal, one went in against a goaltender (sorry Matt Murray) who was 0-6-0 and was rocking a not so spectacular .883 SV%. And who scored last night for Calgary? Well it shouldn’t be a surprise: Matthew Tkachuk with an assist from Johnny Gaudreau.
There you have it folks, the only two people currently performing at a playoff/star caliber on the roster.
Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk have been carrying the Flames lately (which seems weird to say because the team has lost four in a row) and Gaudreau has been doing it for almost the entire season. Gaudreau’s defensive game has been phenomenal this season and Tkachuk is back to doing Tkachuk things and the stat lines show it. Here’s the Flames two best players over the last 10 games:
Johnny Gaudreau: 6 goals, 7 assists, 32 SOG
Matthew Tkachuk: 5 goals, 7 assists, 34 SOG
They’re basically the exact dame player and if you want to look even further into it, Gaudreau has at least a point in 16 out of his last 20 and Tkachuk has at least a point in 14 out of his last 20 games. During the Flames current four game skid the team as a whole has lit the lamp only seven times. Gaudreau (2) and Tkachuk (2) have four of the seven markers and they each have two assists. Want more? The Flames have only scored 26 goals in their last last 10 games and have a record of 2-7-1 and as you can see above, 11 of those belong to these two players.
Who honestly thought after the start the Flames had that this would even be an issue? Remember Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane’s tear to start the season? Mangiapane has only two goals in his last 10 games and 2 at home. He tore through October and November with 15 total goals, he leads the team with 18. Clearly he wasn’t going to keep up that pace, but he’s gone dry as a desert and the Flames need him to start chipping in. Lindholm? He has two goals in his last 10 games with five points total over that stretch. He is another Flames player that started off extremely hot (23 points in first 23 games), but since his hat trick against the Washington Capitals on October 23rd, Elias Lindholm has only scored six times over a span of 31 games.
They aren’t the only Flames that should bear the weight of this stretch of futility. Mikael Backlund is a shell of the player he used to be and that pains me to type that out. The veteran centre has only 11 points on the season and hasn’t scored November 21st in a 4-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins. Sean Monahan certainly has disappeared as well, scoring only four times in 34 games. And while we’re at it, let’s throw Dillon Dube on the fire as well because he’s been an utter disappointment this season. Four goals in 34 games just isn’t enough for a guy that “couldn’t” be included in any potential trade because he’s going to be so good. He’s so good that he has only put the puck in the net three times in the Flames last 15 games and he isn’t helping anywhere else either. His last assist? November 21st against Boston.
There’s plenty of blame to go around on this team. The defence hasn’t been lighting it up either, outside of Oliver Kylington (his 19 points are 5th best on the team). Of the eight defenceman Calgary has dressed this season only 10 goals have been scored by that group and four belong to Oliver Kylington. Rasmus Andersson? Zero. Erik Gudranson? Zero. Chris Tanev? One. Noah Hanifin has three, with two coming in the month of December. Yes, your defencemen are there to stop the puck and play defence, but it’s also 2022 and they are expected to contribute in the offensive end as well. Especially someone like Rasmus Andersson and it’s just not there.
So, I’m telling you stuff you already know: the Flames need scoring help. Ok, but where? Is it trading for Tomas Hertl or Tyler Toffoli? Both are fantastic players and absolutely should be on Calgary’s radar, but we all know how that works. Brad Treliving likes to play it safe and add a bottom six role player or an 8th defenceman at the trade deadline. Well, that’s the last thing Calgary needs because this roster, as it’s currently constructed, is filled with bottom six players. Outside of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman, who’s a top six? I’ll save you the research: no one. Tyler Pitlick, Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis, Dillon Dube, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Brett Ritchie are who the Flames are surrounding their best talent with. It’s atrocious. I didn’t include Milan Lucic in that list because, yes he is a bottom six player, but he’s a leader and he is contributing on all levels this season. And before you get on me about this not being a video game I know you can’t have loaded rosters because of the salary cap, but you HAVE to do better than what is constructed right now because if you don’t, you’re just like the team up the road, but with better goaltending.
This offseason is going to be an interesting one as Calgary needs to find money to pay Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. The price for Gaudreau and Tkachuk is going to be astronomical, as it should, and the Flames NEED to shell out the cash. Maybe Andrew Mangiapane’s current play has backed his price down a bit and the Flames can get them all locked up for a long term. But in the land of right now, Calgary needs to move some pieces and bring in someone to help. That trip out East showed that Calgary isn’t quite ready for prime time and something needs to be done. Whether it’s a trade or bringing a stud up from Stockton, Brad Treliving needs to make a move and do it with authority. No more hemming and hawing. No more dipping your toe in the water. Kick the door in, make a move and make this team relevant again. Darryl Sutter has shown that he can get this team playing excellent hockey, but at this point his roster is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Calgary needs offence and they need it now. I fully expect Elias Lindholm to get his game back, so he’s not a worry for me and hopefully Mangiapane will pick back up, but Calgary’s two best weapons are out there on their own most nights and that needs to be rectified.
Please Brad Treliving, send Johnny and Chucky some help. Like yesterday.