On Mar. 5, 2021, the Calgary Flames introduced they have been firing then-head coach Geoff Ward, and changing him with an previous acquainted face in Darryl Sutter. Whereas it was clear that issues weren’t working underneath Ward, many have been shocked that normal supervisor Brad Treliving selected to go along with Sutter, an old-school coach who hadn’t been within the league because the 2016-17 season.
Associated: Flames’ Markstrom Chasing Single Season Shutout Document
As everyone knows, hockey is an evolving sport, and generally coaches, identical to gamers, aren’t in a position to adapt with the occasions. Take Ken Hitchcock for example. The 69-year-old is considered one of many biggest coaches of all time, however most thought his time was effectively previous when the Edmonton Oilers selected to rent him throughout 2018-19 as a midseason substitute for Todd McLellan. Followers and media have been right to query that call, because the Oilers performed to a awful 26-28-8 report to shut out the season underneath Hitchcock.
There have been some who questioned if the identical would occur for Sutter. The 63-year-old is understood as a defensive-minded coach and likes his gamers to play a conservative-styled sport, one thing that isn’t seen usually in at this time’s NHL.
Sutter Proving His Teaching Knowledge
Sutter wasn’t in a position to flip the Flames round in 2020-21 as was hoped, as they went simply 15-15-0 with him to finish the season. Many have been nonetheless fairly hesitant on Sutter because of this, however the optimistic look from some was that maybe if he had a coaching camp with this group, he would be capable of totally instill each his message and methods and get them getting in the fitting route.
These with that opinion are being confirmed right. Via 20 video games this season, the Flames sit at a particularly spectacular 12-3-5 for 29 factors, which is main the Pacific Division. The inconsistencies, and at occasions, lack of effort we seen from this group only a season in the past are now not, as they look like totally purchased in to Sutter’s system.
One of many greatest areas that is evident is by way of their defensive play. There was a ton of credit score that has gone out to the goaltending duo of Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar, and for good purpose as the 2 have mixed for a ridiculous seven shutouts on the season. Nevertheless, nearly as good as they’ve been, the credit score deserves to be given as a lot to Sutter, if no more.
Sutter has turned this Flames squad right into a tight-checking group who offers up only a few scoring alternatives. Not solely are they the fifth-lowest group in photographs in opposition to per sport at 29.4, however a very good proportion of these photographs are low hazard scoring alternatives, which an elite goalie like Markstrom has no drawback turning apart. As of now, they’ve given up simply 104 excessive hazard scoring probabilities in opposition to. To place into contemplating simply how stable that’s, the Vegas Golden Knights, who many thought of a Stanley Cup contender heading into the season, have given up 171.
Flames Discovering Success Offensively
Oftentimes, enjoying a really defensive fashion of sport can result in an absence of offence for a group. That hasn’t been the case for the Flames this season. The truth is, their offence has been amongst the league’s greatest, as their 3.40 targets per sport sits seventh amongst all 32 groups. Main the way in which is Johnny Gaudreau who’s enjoying his greatest hockey because the 2018-19 season with 23 factors in 20 video games.
Gaudreau hasn’t executed the heavy lifting on his personal both, as Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, and Andrew Mangiapane are all proper round a point-per-game tempo. Mangiapane particularly has been electrical, as he already has an absurd 15 targets on the yr and will destroy his career-high 18, which he set a season prior.
In 2020-21, this group struggled to get offence from their again finish, as solely Mark Giordano and Rasmus Andersson cracked the 20-point barrier. That hasn’t been the case this season, as Oliver Kylington seems to have the arrogance of Sutter and is off to a begin nobody had imagined with 12 factors in 19 video games. Andersson can be off to a really stable begin with 11 helpers on the yr.
Contenders within the Pacific
Very early into the 2021-22 season, some questioned if the Flames have been for actual or had simply gotten off to a scorching begin. Now that we’re 1 / 4 method by, it’s turning into fairly evident that it is a much-improved group from a season prior. What makes it so unimaginable is that there wasn’t a ton of roster adjustments. The truth is, it may very well be argued they acquired worse on paper given the lack of Giordano. Their enchancment, it appears, falls instantly on the shoulders of Sutter, and has him in critical competition for his first-ever Jack Adams Award.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey participant who now gives his data of the sport by writing. He’s been a really energetic and dependable supply for almost two years at The Hockey Writers. He’s a credentialed author for the Calgary Flames but in addition does options on different groups all through the league. Different writing contributions embody: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton can be a co-host of each Oilers Additional time and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content material information might be made by him on Twitter. Check out his work right here.