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Flames burn up the West year in review


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PRESEASON OUTLOOK Some people liked the Flames this year with Sutter at the helm, others wondered if the game had passed him by. Still others questioned their signing of knuckle draggers to the blueline and thought they were gonna be mediocre maybe fighting for a low end playoff spot. Truth? I was in that camp.


FINAL RECORD 50-21-11 111 points first place in the Pacific. Knocked off Dallas in the first round in 7 gmes as Gaudreau scored the goal of his lifetime in an overtime game 7 thriller. Lost in five against the Oilers.


HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON Late January they were doing okay at 20-13-6 but then they caught fire going 16-2-1 with Markstrom leading the way. In the 16 wins the team gave up two goals or less in 11 of them. They outscored their opponents by a whopping 66-29 durng that stretch and while they had to fend of the Oilers a bit the pacific was basically theirs. 


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR Thry slogged long from Early December through Mid January allowing the rest of the division to come back to them, losing 8 of 10 with the only two wins against bottom feeders in Seattle and Chicago. Of course they righted the ship shortly after and all was well that ended well.


WHAT WENT RIGHT Gaudreau (40-75-115) and Tkachuk (42-62-104) both broke the century mark in points. Elias Lindholm played a brilliant 200 foot game and scored at a point a game and along with the first two combined to give the Flames an entire line of 40 goal scorers. Andrew Mangiapane scored 36 many of which were timely especially early in the year. Baclund had the exact same year that he always does like punching a clock. Blake Coleman had a solid year. Markstrom is a finalist for the Vezina going 37-15-9 with a microscopic 2.22 goals against. Dube was a great 3C and is well on his way to pushing Backlund down a line. Hanifan and Andersson led a no name defense that moved the puck well and protected their own end extremely well. This was a nasty hard hitting team led by Lucic, Gudbranson, Zadorov, Coleman and Tkachuk, they like to hit and you best keep your head on a swivel when playing them. Vlader came from nowhere and was a very sericable backup in net. 


WHAT WENT WRONG Monahan is only a shadow of his former self and the team plays better without him. Brett Ritchie contributed nothing. Jarnkrok came over as a deadline add and added nothing. Jusso Valamaki still has not established himself on the back end and is much more suspect than prospect at this point. 


FREE AGENTS AND DRAFT PICKS They traded their first for Toffoli who was a good source of secondary scoring. They also dealt out their 3rd, 4th and 6th. They only have 3 picks all year. 

  Johnny Hockey is probably the number one coveted free agent in all of hockey this offseason and the Flames will move heaven and earth to try to keep him. Speer carriers Gudbranson, Zadorov, Lewis and Jarnkrok are all free agents and depending on the money it takes to sign Gaudreau all or none may be back.


 TOP PROSPECTS Adam Ruzicka is a nasty piece of work who will crack the bottom six forwards score about ten goals and hit everything that moves. Valimaki is still kind of a prospect but time is running out to prove it. Next year is his show me year. Jakob Pelletier and Conner Zary are both capable of cracking the middle six and will compete in camp with each other to likely replace Jarnkkrok. Connor Mackey is old for a prospect but should stick replacing either Gudbranson or Zadorov and is a capable if unspectacular player. Wolf and Parsons are going opposite directions in net with Wolf the third goalie if they lose on to injury and Parsons looking like a bust. Matthew Phillips has holes in his game but can score and play center ot wing. Lots and lots of NHL ready or near ready B or B minus prospects. Lots to like, if not love here.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Gaudreau plus 64, Lindholm, plus 61 and Tkachuk plus 57 became the first trio of teammates to finish first second and third in this category in over 40 years. Both Gaudreau and Lindholm finished in the top 50 of all time in the category. Not bad for Gaudreau who until this year was considered a defensive liability AND WAS ONLY A PLUS 23 TOTAL IN HIS FIRST SEVEN YEARS TOTAL. 


OFFSEASON QUESTIONS Can they resign Gaudreau? They have to, the prospect pool is deep and good but nobody can step into his role. The big four all had career years, if they slip a bit is there anyone to pick up the slack? Will they buy out Monahan? Lucic? 


it was a damn fine season for the Flames, they need to resign Gaudreau and bump up the secondary scoring and they could contend again. lots to like here.



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Agreed that Gaudreau is a defensive liability most years, not so much Tkachuk and not at all Lindholm. Lindholm as a Selke Nominee IMHO is a joke, off the top of my head I can think of ten better defensive forwards from this year alone without furrowing my brow and really trying. THAT SAID Lindholm is a decent defensive player, his Corsi and Fenwick show that. For such an offensive threat he still takes nearly half his draws in the defensive zone which is more than nearly all other true 1C's do Hei s, while IMHO not a real Selke candidate a solid two way performer who is absolutely not a liability. 


  The big thing with the strange stat of the year is the fact that they have the first, second and third in the category for the first time in generations. 

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Before the season, I thought the Flames would have trouble moving the puck out of their own end, because I thought that Kylington would continue to not really get a shot. I should have thought more about it, because despite what people might think about Sutter being old-fashioned, he has a very deep understanding of the nuance of possession hockey, and Kylington does nothing but help in that department.


Wonderful puck transporter.


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8 hours ago, FireDillabaugh said:

All 3.  Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Lindholm.

Markstrom has to make that save though...the problem in the Edmonton series was Markstrom being worse than Smith in net and Calgary somehow not playing as physical and not as much emotion as they did against Dallas...


The turning point for me in the Dallas series is when Lucic went after Benn at the opening faceoff...the rest of the team follows Lucic lead and for Dallas in was to keep initiating them...but in the edmonton series nobody from either team even tried to fight...it's like Lucic being friends with most edmonton players told both sides to forget about fighting...


Anyways I hope somehow can keep most of same team...but of course that will only happen if Gaudreau does what McKinnon did and takes less money for sake of keeping same teammates...I don't think he'll do that though...

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