Flames’ 1-Goal Losses Have Sunk Season

The Calgary Flames dug themselves a very big hole at the worst time of the season, and unless they go on a massive run, they can say goodbye to their playoff aspirations. The team is below the league average in a few areas this season, which have contributed to their many one-goal losses. Several other factors have led to the team’s lack of success, which we’ll get into as well.

The Flames’ 2023 Trade Deadline was a letdown, but that wasn’t a huge surprise since they were already at the edge of the playoff race by then. General manager Brad Treliving felt he still needed to do something to address the team’s depth, but offence and goaltending were left to the roster to fix.

How Bad Have Flames Been in 1-Goal Games?

The Flames started the 2022-23 season 4-1-0, three of those victories coming in one-goal games. From there, it went downhill. They have piled up 24 one-goal losses between the seventh and 62nd games of the season and lead the league in that category. They have only won 14 games by one goal and have an overtime/shootout record of 5-13.

Jacob Markstrom Calgary Flames
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The only above-average and solid part of their game this season is the Flames’ penalty kill, which ranks 13th in the league. They sit at 80.91 PK% (penalty kill percentage), while the league average is just 78.62 percent. The team has also scored seven shorthanded goals, which is one above the league average of six this season. This is really the only area of their game that has helped them win games.

Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Was a Wildly Lopsided Arms Race

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Extra time has been a major issue this season, as four of Calgary’s last five decisions past regulation have resulted in losses. It’s one thing to come back and fall short, but the Flames have been blowing leads, especially in the third period.

Underwhelming Trade Deadline for Flames

The Flames have enough cap space for many to have expected more to happen before the deadline, but when the deadline season kicked off around the start of February, the Flames were in a much better position than they were a month later. This should have resulted in at least one trade sooner, but only two trades were pulled off on the final day.

From the start of February to the trade deadline, the Flames had a record of 3-5-4, meaning their points percentage on the season was 0.57 instead their current 0.539. This shows what happened while Treliving allowed his roster to determine the season. The Flames needed a top-six winger and didn’t get one. They also needed more defensive depth and did address that to a certain extent, but there were better players available than Troy Stecher.

Troy Stecher Arizona Coyotes
Troy Stecher with the Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Flames swapped two depth players for two slight upgrades, which did make them better. But considering they had a few extra million to work with, they were not one of the deadline winners. Though Nick Ritchie is being tried out on the second line, he has averaged 13:36 per game this season and has recorded 10 goals and 22 points. Those are the numbers of a bottom-six player who can play on the third line, at best.

I don’t blame Treliving for the lack of key acquisitions because the team was in a spot that made it risky to load up. But he is to blame for the lack of moves before the deadline that might have helped give his team more of a chance to remain in the playoff race. Though he couldn’t address goaltending because of the contracts of both their netminders, scoring could have been. The Flames’ shooting percentage is 0.5 below league average at five-on-five and 1.3 percent below average overall despite a Corsi-for percentage of 56.8 at five-on-five.

A combination of missing offence, a lack of depth and below-average goaltending has sunk the Flames this season and put them in a spot that will be very tough to climb out of. The offseason should be used to reset and for Treliving to find a way to pull the Flames out of mediocrity.

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