It’s a little over a quarter of the way through the season, more or less, and the North Division is every bit as exciting as we expected it would be.
The Calgary Flames are, likewise, everything we expected they would be. More or less.
The Flames find themselves fifth in the North, with an 8-6-1 record ahead of Wednesday’s rubber match against the Vancouver Canucks.
Their record is built on solid defence and terrific goaltending, but offence is still hard to come by.
They generate the least shots and shot attempts in the North Division – and it shows.
Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm lead the scoring. Both have 16 points in 15 games. Gaudreau has nine goals on 35 shots on goal.
After that, there is a scoring drop-off.
Matthew Tkachuk joins Lindholm and Gaudreau as the only Flames with five or more goals. Throw Sean Monahan in the mix and you’ve got just four Flames with over 10 points this season, although the 26-year-old has scored just twice on 35 shots. That makes for his lowest shooting percentage to date by a fair margin.
Calgary simply isn’t getting secondary scoring. That will be a problem in the North Division, where the seven clubs have scored 364 goals so far this season.
Granted, the Flames have scored four more goals than the Senators so that’s something.
But picking up the pace, starting with Wednesday’s contest against Vancouver, wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Calgary has been experimenting. The Bubble Boys are back together, for instance. Milan Lucic, Dillon Dube, and Sam Bennett reconnected Monday and pushed the Flames over a 2-0 shortfall and into a 4-3 win. It was Calgary’s fourth win in five and their first OT victory of the season. The Flames are 8-2-2 in their last 12 against Vancouver.
Locking it down is something this club does well. The Flames are fourth overall in third period goal differential with a plus-6. Overcoming deficits is also something they do well, but they are routinely getting outshot – including on Saturday against the Canucks, when they were out-blasted 46-19 for a 3-1 loss.
Without question, defence has given the Flames an advantage. But the goals do need to come, especially if they hope to round the bases against the likes of Toronto and Montreal when things really get serious.
Pic: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images