The Calgary Flames were in third place in the Pacific Division when the NHL was forced to pause play due to COVID. The Flames had a 36-27-7 record at the break for 79 points. They defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the play-in round before falling to the Dallas Stars in the first round of the playoffs. Our Calgary Flames preview 2021 looks at how well equipped the club is to have another chance at a playoff run this year.
The Calgary Flames offense did not live up to its potential last season. A big reason why was the subpar season that star winger Johnny Gaudreau had. After putting up 36 goals and 63 assists in the 2018-2019 season, Gaudreau saw his point total dip under the point per game threshold. He also struggled defensively recording a -10 plus-minus rating the lowest in his six-year career. Despite his lapse in production, Gaudreau will head Calgary’s top line with center Sean Monahan and winger Elias Lindholm. Like Gaudrau, Monahan struggled last season compared to prior years.
In 2018-2019, Monahan set a career high with 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points in 78 games. He saw his point total dwindle to just 48 last season, his lowest since he was a rookie. Lindholm was the sole bright spot on Calgary’s top line. Although he saw his point total decline from 78 to 54 over the past two seasons, Lindholm still finished with 29 goals. This led the Flames’ roster. While our 2021 Calgary Flames Preview expects bounce back years from Monahan and Gaudreau, another set of disappointing season’s would make it very difficult for the club to clinch a postseason berth in a stacked Canadian Division.
Calgary’s most valuable player upfront might be Matthew Tkachuk. The winger enters his fifth NHL season and has established himself as one of the League’s biggest pests. Combined with his skill and knack to find the back of the net, Tkachuk’s role in the success of the Flames cannot be understated. Last season He put together his third straight season with over 20 goals. His total points at the pause stood at 61 through 69 games, making him the team’s leader in that regard.
A breakout candidate for the Flames could be Andrew Mangiapane, who found himself playing a top-six role last season. He set a career high in points and goals last season scoring 17 goals and adding 15 helpers. He is slated to play on the second line in 2021 and a further boost in his production could help propel the Flames to a better record this season.
Calgary Flames Preview 2021 – Defense
While Calgary lost a big piece on their blueline with the departure of TJ Brodie, the club found an adequate replacement, if not an upgrade with their signing of Chris Tanev. Tanev is among the NHL’s most underrated shutdown defensemen. Through his ten year professional career he has a total plus-minus of +43, recording only a single season with a negative rating. The one concern with Tanev is his ability to stay healthy. He was able to suit up for all of Vancouver’s contests last season but has struggled with injuries throughout his career. If he can stay healthy though, Tanev’s presence greatly increases the quality of Calgary’s blueline.
Mark Giordano, Rasmus Andersson, and Noah Hanifin will all play big roles for Calgary this season. Giordano led the team in time per game playing an average of 23:53 per game.
The biggest upgrade for the Flames over the offseason was in net. They signed arguably the biggest free agent goaltender, Jacob Markstom to a six-year contract. Markstrom has been a stud for Vancouver over the past five seasons. Since becoming the Canucks starter three years ago, the 6’6’’ netminder has recorded a save percentage of .912 or better each season. Last season he had a .918 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA. Markstrom is a big upgrade as the starter compared to David Rittich who will now move into the backup spot.
Rittich finished last season with a .907 save percentage anda 2.97 GAA. He stared a total of 48 games going 24-17-6. He could be a starter on many teams, and gives the Flames a very good backup option behind Markstrom.
Calgary Flames Preview 2021: Outlook
Our Calgary Flames Preview 2021 sees the Flames as a playoff team. While their stars struggled last season, they’re is a decent chance that they rebound in 2021. On top of this, adding Jacob Markstrom gives them an elite presence in net. They finished in the middle of the league for goals allowed last season but they should be one of the best defensive teams in the league this year. Look for the Flames to clinch a playoff spot this year.
Calgary Flames Preview 2021: Projection
Record: 33-18-5, 71 points
Finish: 1st in the North Division