The Calgary Flames looked pretty good this season to be a contender. To at least reach the postseason. The effort was somewhat there, but it looks like they fell short. Just like they did at the trade deadline... Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports recently cited NHL insider Pierre LeBrun’s appearance last week on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 discussing attempts by the Flames to improve their roster at the recent trade deadline and how they could pick things up during the offseason. One thing is clear: the Flames rely too much on a small group of players to provide the offense and need to add a scoring forward.
During the trade deadline, the Flames investigated a whole lot on Ottawa Senators scoring winger Mike Hoffman and Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty. Both players did not end up moving on Feb. 26. The Flames' hope was to keep moving to clinch a playoff berth, but last night, they shot themselves in the foot by losing 5-2 to the Arizona Coyotes. Cue to Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun:
"The sputtering Flames sit too far back with too many teams between them and a top-eight spot. But more than anything else, they’re simply not playing well enough to be a post-season club.
The Calgary Flames are done."
Brutal, but quite true. Even starting goalie Mike Smith, who was back in Arizona and got a nice ovation, was aware that points are slipping away.
"It's disappointing, frustrating, you think you have an opportunity to get some points here tonight and you let it slip away," Smith said after the game. "So it hurts. We needed tonight's game. It was a big game for us and we let it slide again."
“We have to go into every game basically knowing that we have to get the two points. Every game that we lose, our chances get slimmer and slimmer. Now, we can only get to 96. Hopefully, we can get there," said captain Mark Giordano to the Calgary Sun.
The loss dropped the Flames to six points back of the final wild-card spot with only eight games remaining. The battle is tight in the Western Conference and now the lack of scoring is truly showing for Calgary.
While the Flames will be facing the final push for a playoff berth, fans will also be thinking of next season, to make sure the issues do not show up again next year. The Flames could attempt to address their need for another scoring forward in the offseason, despite a massive hurdle in their way. The Flames have already dealt away their first and second round picks in the 2018 draft, as well as their second and third round selections in 2019. When they landed defenseman Travis Hamonic last summer, they had to let go of their first round pick in the trade.
We all know that the Jaromir Jagr experiment did not work out...
The Flames do need to focus on a new plan to acquire a scoring forward, and there has been speculation that the Flames could be willing to part with promising goaltender Jon Gillies. However, more will be needed to land a scoring forward of the caliber of Hoffman or Pacioretty.
With over $62 million invested in 15 players next season and all their core players under contract, the Flames might choose to shop on the free-agent market instead to make a big splash. Francis also wonders if any changes will be made with coaching...
"Liked and respected by the players who appreciate the rope he’s given them, many believe Glen Gulutzan is simply not hard enough on a group that started too many games flat and relied far too much on its netminder.
Should the coach take more heat for the team’s home record, as he had last change and perhaps could have done better to motivate the lads?"
Fans will be able to find the answers to these hard questions, while other teams compete for a Stanley Cup...