Calgary Flames News & Rumors: Sutter, Markstrom, Gaudreau & More

In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, Darryl Sutter recently explained what he believes his team’s problem is during its recent struggle. While he didn’t place blame on anyone, one player who certainly hasn’t been good enough lately is Jacob Markstrom, whose play has fallen off in a major way since being listed with a minor injury roughly two weeks ago. In other news, Johnny Gaudreau was the lone Flame voted into this year’s all-star game, though the team is doing everything they can to get Matthew Tkachuk there as well.

Sutter Says Defensive Play Has to Improve

The Flames are in a rut right now. They have not only lost four straight but eight of their last 10, and have dropped out of a playoff spot as a result. While there is plenty of time to get things back on track, many are concerned, including Sutter, who believes his team hasn’t been nearly good enough defensively lately.

Darryl Sutter
Head coach Darryl Sutter (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

“If you (look at it) over the course of the season, we’re scoring three goals a game, and you’re going to go through stretches where you’re only going to score two,” Sutter said. “So the biggest factor for me in all that is not goals scored, but I would say it’s the four, six, four and six goals scored against in those games.

“I’ve said this so many times, this organization was way out of whack in terms of what it would take to (be successful).

“It was automatic from outside the organization they were going to win two rounds and the way they were going to do it was to outscore the opponent. Now, whenever the team struggles, the question is, ‘how come you can’t score?’ That’s sort of going back to where you were.”

Sutter’s concerns are very valid, as the Flames have given up 20 goals during their current four-game slide. They simply do not possess the offensive weapons of some of the games elite teams in order to outscore defensive miscues. If they want to get back on track, they need to get back on track to how they were playing as a unit defensively to begin the season.

Markstrom Hitting Rough Patch

Through the first quarter of the 2021-22 season, there was no doubt that despite many great individual performances from Flames players, Markstrom was the teams MVP. His five shutouts lead the league, and he was considered a front-runner for the Vezina Trophy. Unfortunately, his play has faltered as of late, as he has recorded a save percentage (SV%) above .900 in just two of the past seven contests.

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Whether or not it is just a coincidence, the Flames were forced to start twice in as many nights recently due to Markstrom dealing with a minor injury. At the time, it didn’t seem like much to worry about, but given his struggles as of late it has some wondering if he has a nagging injury that is causing his down play. The 31-year-old has said he is fine, but he has never been one to make excuses. If his struggles continue for much longer, it may not be a complete surprise to see the Flames give him a bit of time off.

Johnny All-Star

On Thursday, it was announced that Gaudreau had been selected to represent Team Pacific at the 2022 All-Star game, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas. The honour shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the 28-year-old has been fantastic for the Flames this season with 15 goals and 39 points in just 34 contests.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This will be the sixth All-Star game appearance for Gaudreau, and his first since 2019. After two so-so years by his standards, he has bounced back in a major way in 2021-22 and is back to being one of the games most dynamic wingers.

One Flame who was likely deserving of an All-Star nod, but did not receive one, was Tkachuk, who has been very good himself this season with 16 goals and 32 points in 34 games. However, each division has a fan vote to put in one more player on each team, and the Flames social media account is doing everything in its power to make that player be Tkachuk.

The Flames’ twitter account recently reached out to the St. Louis Blues with an offer, stating that they would vote 10 times a day for Robert Thomas, if the Blues were to do the same for Tkachuk. The Ottawa Senators then chimed in, saying they would also give 10 votes daily to both Tkachuk and Thomas if both teams would do the same for their own potential representative in Brady Tkachuk. The three teams all agreed to the proposal in what has turned into a fun little story for fans.

Up Next for the Flames

The Flames will play their next game on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. They played the Panthers on the road just two weeks ago, and will be looking to exact revenge as they were defeated in that game by a 6-2 final. They will then be off until Saturday where they will face off against their rival Edmonton Oilers, another team who has been struggling in a big way as of late. They will both be huge games for the Flames in order to get back into the playoff picture.

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