The Calgary Flames are in the thick of it as they venture into their All-Star break, with a 26-19-5 record and a total of 57 points.
That ties them with the Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific, while the Vancouver Canucks top the joint with 58 points. The San Jose Sharks have 46 points.
Positioning will be key after the break, which is what the Flames have to focus on if they want to maintain any kind of advantage going into this critical stretch. The week off may mean a rest for some players, but it will mean a recalibration of the front office and a refocusing on what’s important – especially given how rocky this year has been.
The Flames are going ahead with interim coach Geoff Ward and the results have been decent. They dropped a 5-2 decision to the Senators on Saturday, but they’ve won six of their last eight. If Calgary can emphasize the positive, they’ll keep the ball rolling after a week off.
They’ll need to locate some scoring, however, which should put general manager Brad Treliving to work. He’s got $4.79 million of cap space, most of which he generated after trading Michael Frolik last week.
Treliving could be in the mindset to acquire a rental, but conventional wisdom suggests he’d like a player with a bit of term remaining. Tyler Toffoli could be a possibility as far as the former, as Los Angeles is intent on moving him. He has history with Sean Monahan, but he hasn’t been performing well with the Kings.
Calgary’s been shopping T.J. Brodie for a while, including last summer when they took a run at Nazem Kadri. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the market for defence – and they are – they may well package someone up for the blueliner and give Treliving some options.
But really, it’s hard to say exactly what the Flames will do to address their concerns – if anything. Calling up the likes of Austin Czarnik could shuffle the deck, as he’s been scoring nicely in the AHL. Ward could also try out a few different line combinations to find the right balance.
“I think we’ve done a really good job of just finding ways to win games,” said forward Sam Bennett. “We’re not really blowing any teams out. I think a lot of our wins have been one-goal games, and that’s how you’re going to win games in the playoffs. It’s going to be tight hockey like that.”
The team might be satisfied with winning one-goal games right now, but things could get tricky down the stretch as close wins turn into close games that could go either way. And when every point counts, finding more scoring is never a bad idea.
Photo credit: NHL.com