In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Jacob Markstrom was selected as the NHL’s first star of the week thanks to his superb play as of late. On a more serious note, Mikael Backlund, who is the team’s National Hockey League Players Association’s (NHLPA) representative, spoke with TSN regarding the Kyle Beach situation. In other news, Andrew Mangiapane has been red hot to start the season and is starting to garner some serious attention throughout the league. Last but not least, the team has been getting some very reliable play from their “Dad Line,” one that consists of Backlund, Blake Coleman and Tyler Pitlick.
Markstrom Off to Fantastic Start
After signing a six-year, $36 million deal with the Flames during the 2020 offseason, Markstrom wasn’t the goalie management had hoped for in 2020-21. While he had some good stretches, he was far too inconsistent and finished the season with a disappointing 2.68 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .904 save percentage (SV%).
The 31-year-old has been on the record since, stating he knew he needed to be better, and so far he is more than living up to that. Through six games this season, he has a 4-1-1 record and an even better 1.33 GAA along with a .957 SV%. His great play is being noticed, as the NHL named him the first star of the week after he compiled a 3-0-0 record along with two shutouts during that span.
While the numbers he has right now aren’t sustainable, he appears primed for a bounce-back season and one that could have his name in the Vezina conversation. If he is able to play at an elite level for the entirety of 2021-22, the Flames should have no problem getting into the postseason.
Backlund Addresses the Kyle Beach Situation
The NHL received a very ugly stain on its name last week when Kyle Beach agreed to sit down with TSN’s Rick Westhead and discuss himself being sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, who at the time was the video coach for the Chicago Blackhawks. This situation has resulted in the resignation of both Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville. Those may not be the only jobs lost, either, as Don Fehr, who is the executive director of the NHLPA, is also in hot water. Backlund spoke with TSN about this entire situation recently.
“I haven’t read the full hundred-page report, but I’ve read things and seen clips on social media, on TV, and my reaction is just sad about what happened,” Backlund said. “I feel really bad that Kyle had to go through that and didn’t get the help he should have gotten. That shouldn’t happen. I’m happy it came out and that people that didn’t stand up for him were acknowledged. It was brave of him to come out, too. He’s definitely gonna help some other kids or players if they’ve been through it to come out, seek help, and get the bad people out of the game.”
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He was also asked about the fact that Fehr reportedly knew about the abuse Beach received, but failed to do anything about it.
“I don’t know the full story on what happened with the PA,” Backlund continued. “There’s going to be a call tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’m not gonna make it because of family reasons, but it’s an important call. If the PA knew about it and he reached out, they should have done something, of course. They should definitely have helped Kyle. I mean, it’s the players’ union. That being said, I don’t know what happened and what he said and who he talked to – if it was Donald Fehr or not. I’m sure we’ll get to know more tomorrow. I don’t know the full story on that part.”
Mangiapane Becoming an Elite Player
Over the past few seasons, Flames fans have been very impressed with the continuous improvement of Mangiapane. The 25-year-old has turned into a very solid secondary scorer in recent seasons, and fans of this team thought he could take an even bigger step this season and perhaps get more recognition from fans across the league.
Early into 2021-22, that is exactly what is happening. Mangiapane has been a goal-scoring machine early on with seven tallies in eight contests. At this point, he looks like he is going to smash his previous career-high 18 goals.
Some will point to his shooting percentage this season (18.62 percent) and suggest it isn’t sustainable, though that isn’t the case. Over the past three seasons, Mangiapane’s scored on 19.18 percent of his shots, which ranks fourth throughout the entire league in that span, trailing only Leon Draisaitl, Tyler Bertuzzi, and T.J. Oshie. He is truly an elite finisher and could very well break the 30-goal mark this season.
Dad Line Proving Beneficial for Flames
Backlund, Coleman and Pitlick have been a successful line since thrown together by Darryl Sutter. They also have six kids combined between the three of them, which makes the “Dad Line” an easy name for them.
“I have kids, (Coleman) has kids,” Backlund said. “We talk about our kids and it comes natural. Tyler has kids… exactly, you could say that (they’re the “Dad Line”). We’ve all been around and know what it takes (to play in the NHL) and Colesy’s won (the Stanley Cup) twice, so he knows what it takes. Hopefully the other guys think that’s important. All three of us want to do the right things out there. Hopefully that feeds off the right way on our teammates.”
As Kristen Anderson of the Calgary Sun wrote, they are smart, responsible and reliable, which makes the “Dad Line” name make even more sense. (from ‘Kristen Anderson: Flames’ Coleman, Backlund and Pitlick providing dependability and offence as ‘Dad’ line,’ Calgary Sun 10/31/21) With the chemistry they have shown early on, along with their solid play at both ends of the ice, this trio may be a line that is able to stick together for a long time.
Coming up Next for the Flames
The Flames are the hottest team in the NHL right now thanks to a current six-game winning streak. They will look to make it seven when they take on the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. After that, they face-off against the Dallas Stars on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday to finish off their week.