Flames Weekly is our new series on how the Calgary Flames performed the previous week. Be sure to check in every Monday for our take on the week that was and find out which storylines and players took center stage. Feel free to use the comment section below to let us know how you thought the team performed this past week or to post any other ideas or questions you have about the Flames.
Outclassed By Toronto
This past week was a slow one for the Flames, who had just two games on Monday and Saturday night. They were supposed to play Wednesday night as well, but with the Vancouver Canucks current COVID situation the game was postponed.
Starting the week was a Monday night matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are beginning to run away with first place in the North Division. Despite trailing on two separate occasions, the Flames showed great resiliency and were able to tie things up at three midway through the third period.
Unfortunately, the Leafs’ stars then took over as they got goals from both Auston Matthews and John Tavares and walked away with a 5-3 win. Despite yet another loss, there were some positives to take from this contest as the Flames never looked out of place in this game. In fact, when it was all said and done, they were able to outshoot the Leafs 26-25. While moral victories are not something neither this team nor fan base wants to hear about, it was certainly better than a lot of games they have played this season.
Excellence Versus Edmonton
After a four-day break, the Flames took on the rival Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. It was hard to be overly confident as a fan headed into this game, as the Oilers have had the Flames number, for the most part, this season, heading into Saturday night’s game winning five of their first seven matchups.
Thankfully, Saturday was a much different result, as the Flames hammered the Oilers by a final score of 5-0. This game was never really close, as Edmonton wasn’t able to get much of anything going, firing just 17 shots on net. When they were able to get the odd shot through, Jacob Markstrom was up to the task and was able to come away with his 13th win and third shutout of the season. Hopefully, this was what he needed to turn his play around, as he has struggled since returning from injury in early March.
This game marked some changes for this team, as Darryl Sutter chose to split up Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Instead, he had Gaudreau play with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, while Monahan centered Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube. It seemed to work, as they combined for five points. Perhaps this was the change they needed to jumpstart their offence, as they currently rank 23rd in the entire league with just 107 goals scored this season.
As mentioned, it was a pretty quiet week for the Flames. That changed in a major way on Sunday night, however, as it was announced that goaltender David Rittich has been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2022 third-round draft pick.
This deal makes sense for both sides, as Rittich is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Given the fact the Flames signed Markstrom to a big contract this offseason, it was clear that Rittich would be nothing more than a backup if he were to have signed a new deal in Calgary.
For the Maple Leafs, they are able to add a solid goaltender to the mix as they will soon begin what could be a lengthy playoff run. Despite the emergence of Jack Campbell as of late, he has had some injury scares this season and is quite inexperienced at the NHL level. That, factored in with Frederik Andersen’s current injury and inconsistent play made acquiring another goalie a must. In 15 games this season, Rittich has a 4-7-1 record along with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
While this was the first deadline trade this year by Brad Treliving, it may not be the last. The Flames have multiple other rental players who could be of use to playoff teams, headlined by centerman Derek Ryan. However, any deals they plan to make will have to happen soon, as the deadline is today at 1 p.m. mountain standard time.
This week is once again fairly quiet for the Flames. They will play three games, though in a short amount of time, as they take on the Maple Leafs Tuesday and then the Montreal Canadiens both Wednesday and Friday evening. It seems crazy to say given that most, including myself, have declared their season dead, a big week could get them back into the playoff picture.
As of now, the Flames trail the Canadiens by six points for the final playoff position in the North. While the Leafs game won’t be easy, they have beaten them on two occasions this season, so it is certainly possible. The even bigger games are the ones against the Habs on Wednesday and Friday given that they are the team they are chasing. It still won’t be easy given that Montreal has three games in hand on them, but if they are able to take all four points against them it would certainly make things interesting during the final stretch of the season.
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.