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Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) and left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) celebrate a goal. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire)
March 14th, 2022
Hardly any NHL team has been hotter than the Calgary Flames, who are 13-3-1 in 17 games since the All-Star break. They’ve forced oddsmakers to adjust in many markets, including the Stanley Cup futures.
Loving tonight's highlight pack 🔥#Flames | @scotiabank pic.twitter.com/tuhhOKAWjN— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 8, 2022
Loving tonight's highlight pack 🔥#Flames | @scotiabank pic.twitter.com/tuhhOKAWjN
After being available at +2000 on Feb. 3, the Flames are now just +850 to win their first NHL championship since 1988-89. They’re one of only five teams listed at less than +1000.
Can Calgary keep their second-half momentum going, or will they burn themselves out? Let’s start investigating.
The Flames would not be where they are in the standings – atop the Pacific Division and second overall in the Western Conference – without top-flight forwards Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk. Lindholm has a team-high 25 points since the All-Star break, with Gaudreau close behind at 24, and Tkachuk at 23.
Tyler Toffoli doubles the Calgary lead on the power play, stuffing home the centering pass in tight! 2-0 Flames!#Flames pic.twitter.com/vZPp4koam1— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights & News (@HockeyDaily365) March 13, 2022
Tyler Toffoli doubles the Calgary lead on the power play, stuffing home the centering pass in tight! 2-0 Flames!#Flames pic.twitter.com/vZPp4koam1
The scoring has not stopped there for Calgary, as pre-deadline acquisition Tyler Toffoli – brought in from the Montreal Canadiens for a first round pick and prospects – has eight goals and five assists in 14 games since joining the Flames. Andrew Mangiapane can be streaky, but he’s provided nine of his 29 goals after the All-Star break.
The Flames also continue to get outstanding play in net from Jacob Markstrom, who’s 11-1-1 with a 1.74 GAA and .939 save % over his last 13 starts.
The biggest knock against Calgary might be a lack of depth, even after their acquisition of Toffoli.
Six Flames forwards that currently receive regular ice time carry a negative +/- rating for the season. That comes despite this team being third in the NHL in goal differential at +61. For comparison’s sake, the Stanley Cup favorites – the Avalanche – have just one forward receiving regular ice time with a negative +/- rating. Calgary can’t afford a significant injury at forward.
Another weakness for the Flames appears to be at defense, where they lack a playmaker in the same league as Cale Makar of the Avs, or Adam Fox of the New York Rangers. Calgary defenseman Oliver Kylington leads his unit in goals with seven, tied for 25th in the NHL.
The Flames’ strengths more than make up for their flaws, and they have emerged as the obvious threat to Colorado in the Western Conference.
Elias Lindholm to Johnny Gaudreau🔥 pic.twitter.com/XPE7g9aURr— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) March 6, 2022
Elias Lindholm to Johnny Gaudreau🔥 pic.twitter.com/XPE7g9aURr
The teams split their first two meetings of the year, with the Flames starting backup netminder Dan Vladar both times. Whether it’s because of strategy or coincidence, the Avs having fewer looks at Markstrom could be problematic for them come playoff time.
Calgary’s current price isn’t as appealing as it was six weeks ago, but they’ve stepped up their game considerably, and have to viewed as strong candidates to win the Cup right now at fair odds.
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