Flames riding turnaround under Darryl Sutter
CALGARY, Alberta — The Calgary Flames had a near-perfect February. March is off to a pretty good start, too.
Calgary won for the 12th time in 13 games Tuesday night to extend its lead atop the Pacific Division.
It’s been quite the 2021-22 turnaround for the Flames, who have put things together under coach Darryl Sutter after missing the playoffs last season.
“Every day has to be about getting better,” Sutter said before his team’s latest victory, 5-1 at Minnesota. “If you’re trying to make the playoffs, I don’t think you can have much of a downtime.”
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom has led from the crease behind a roster that’s allowed the second-fewest goals against per game (2.10), and ranks fifth in both shots surrendered (29.1) and the penalty kill (88.2%).
The big Swede has an league-best eight shutouts, just two behind Miikka Kiprusoff’s single-season franchise mark of 10 set in 2005-06 for a team that surrenders the second-fewest high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 (an average of 9.40 per 60 minutes), according to naturalstattrick.com.
But the Flames aren’t just doing it with defense.
Star winger Johnny Gaudreau is sixth in league scoring with 67 points, while Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk are in a race to 30 goals with 28 and 27, respectively. Both scored against the Wild.
General manager Brad Treliving also chipped in at midseason by adding Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens via trade with the deadline now less than three weeks away. And then there’s Elias Lindholm, who’s become one of the NHL’s best two-way centers skating between Gaudreau and Tkachuk on Sutter’s top line.
Calgary went 10-1-0 in February – all 10 victories came in regulation – with the only blemish an ugly 7-1 road loss at Vancouver last week.
All the Flames did from there was beat Minnesota 7-3 at home two nights later before securing another four-goal win Tuesday against the same opponent.
“The 7-1 game was a tough one,” Lindholm said. “Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.”
Very little else has in Calgary the last few months. The Flames’ next game is at home Thursday night against Montreal.