'Everybody's found their game': More goals serving Flames well

In the 22 games the Calgary Flames have played since the start of 2024, the team is 10th in the NHL in goals per game over that stretch, with 3.36

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When the Calgary Flames talk about their identity, they tend to focus on their play in the defensive zone.

That’s where their success starts, the thinking goes.

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Since Jan. 1, though, there’s an argument to be made that their ability to score goals has been just as integral to their success.

Because in the 22 games the Flames have played since the start of 2024, they’ve been scoring a lot more than some people might be giving them credit for.

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In fact, the Flames are 10th in the NHL in goals per game over that stretch, with 3.36, and it’s a big part of the reason why they’ve gone 13-9 and were still in the Western Conference playoff hunt before Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.

“It speaks to the fact that everybody’s found their game,” said Flames winger Blake Coleman, who has scored 10 times since Jan. 1. “Touched on it all year, but four lines, three pairs, when we have that going we’re able to score a lot of goals.

Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers
Calgary Flames Noah Hanifin scores on Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner in Edmonton on Saturday, February 24, 2024. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

“You look at the contributions we’ve got, it’s always up and down the lineup. It’s not one line putting up four or five goals in a night, it’s every line getting one or maybe two and special teams chipping in. That’s our recipe.”

It’s not exactly surprising that a team that is scoring more goals would find success. That’s sort of a no-brainer.

But the past two months have shown a marked improvement for the Flames when it comes to burying the puck in the back of the net.

If we look at the 36 games the Flames played this season before New Year’s Day, they were averaging 2.97 goals per game, nearly a goal less than they’ve been managing in the time since.

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“I would like to see it the other way where we’re not giving up three or four, that would be more important for coaches,” admitted Flames bench boss Ryan Huska. “I think the identity that is starting to take hold is we don’t rely on one or two players.

“We have a lot of people who score for us, a lot of people who are involved in the offence, a lot of people who are expected to help protect leads, if you will. We have a good mix throughout our group.”
That’s backed up by the numbers.

Nazem Kadri is leading the way in 2024, with 11 goals, and Coleman is right behind him with 10. Yegor Sharangovich has nine, but the scoring is otherwise pretty spread out. Eight players have at least five goals — including two defencemen — and 16 guys have scored at least one.

Calgary Flames Boston Bruins
Calgary Flames Nazem Kadri scores OT winner on Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Thursday, February 22, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

And the more the Flames score, the more they win.

In their 13 victories in 2024, they’ve averaged 4.4 goals per game.

In their nine losses, they’ve scored an average of only 1.9 goals.

“I mean, I don’t know that that’s our gameplan, but it’s going to happen and obviously we’ve prioritized (defence) first,” said Jonathan Huberdeau, who has picked up 20 points in 21 games since Jan. 1. “Some games it’s going to go where we have lots of skill in this lineup where we can score some goals and when we start trusting each other that’s when we know we can generate offensively and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

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As for why the Flames are scoring more goals, there doesn’t seem to be any deep secret. There are skilled players up and down the roster, and they’re all seeming to contribute at the same time. This isn’t a team with a Connor McDavid who is going to take over on his own, the Flames need all hands on deck.

And for the past two months, that’s mostly been happening.

“All teams go through that, you get a little bit dry at times and then at other times you feel like you can’t stop scoring,” Kadri said. “I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job at that, just finding different ways and we’ve got some good players in here with some great, high-end talent and I think we’ve been taking advantage of that.”

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