8 reasons the Flames are the NHL's hottest team right now

Feb 24 2022, 8:15 pm

The Calgary Flames, pun pardoned, are the NHL’s hottest team.

And while even that might be underselling the recent run out of the Flames, there’s no disputing who the best team in the National Hockey League has been over the course of the last four weeks. 

They inhabit the Saddledome. 

Calgary won 10 in a row, haven’t lost in nearly a calendar month, and have locked the 2021-22 edition into the record books with a winning streak that matches the longest in run Calgary/Atlanta Flames history.

The team has outscored opponents 42-15 in the process, and became the first team in NHL history to sweep a seven-game homestand.

An 11th straight win, possible with a victory while visiting the Vancouver Canucks today, would be an all-timer for the club.

Fitting, since the streak started with a 1-0 win against the Canucks in Calgary.

Here’s how they got there.

1. Calgary’s scoring early, and often

Calgary isn’t just slumping out of the gate.

In fact, since starting the run on January 29, only the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, by one marker, have scored more first-period goals than the Flames. Neither of those teams, or the 29 others, have scored first more than the Flames, too, who have jumped out to leads in nine of their 10 games.

That’s right. Calgary has trailed first just once in the past 10 games. 

2. They’re keeping the opposition in check

It’s not just that the Flames are scoring first. They’re scoring often. And not letting the opposition get on the board all that much, either.

They’ve outscored opponents 13-6 in the opening frame over the past 10 games, the best differential in the league. The Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Carolina Hurricanes at plus-5 are the only teams within the vicinity when it comes to early leads.

Further, the team has trailed after 20 minutes just once in the past 10 games, and only once after two periods of play. In all, a they’ve trailed for just 37:25 of play, according to Pat Steinberg.

3. The Flames are closing it out, too

Sure, first period goals are nice, but how about sniping in the final 20 minutes? Calgary’s scored a ridiculous 16 goals in the third period over the past 10 games — second-highest in the NHL given the timeframe. Not bad.

What’s even more impressive is the fact they’ve been scored on just three times in the final frame, a plus-13 differential. Needless to say that’s tops among the 32 teams.

4. Markstrom’s stopping (almost) everything

It’s tough not to take a quick peek at what Jacob Markstrom, the NHL’s reigning First Star of the Week.

He leads all goalies in essentially every category since the start of the run. He’s first in wins (8), goals-against average (1.50), shutouts (2), and is second in save percentage (.945). Only a trio have more saves than his 224 stops, too. Markstrom trails five other goalies in assists, however.

5. Calgary is outshooting (almost) everyone

The Flames are second in the league in net shots per game, outshooting the opponent by an average of 10 per game. In fact, over the last 10 games, Calgary has been outshot only once — a 46-save performance from Jacob Markstrom in an 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 10.

Only the Los Angeles Kings, at 11.1, have outshot their opponents by a larger margin in the last month. 

6. The Flames are killing it on the PK

Calgary has been shorthanded 25 times over the course of the past 10 games, a middle-of-the-road stat that has them 16th overall in time shorthanded per game.

Not super impressive.

What is, though, is the fact they’ve killed all but one infraction. Yep. The PK is shining at a sparkling 96% over the past 26 days — best in the league. Making it even more fun, the Flames have one shorthanded goal in that stretch, meaning they’re even across the board in goals for/against while shorthanded. Yes, they’re the only team to do that in the league, too.

7. Calgary is home to the league’s hottest player

Elias Lindholm is undoubtedly the league’s top goal scorer at the moment. He’s scored three straight game-winning goals as part of an eight-game scoring streak (he has nine during the run).

Only Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs has matched a run that long this season, scoring eight straight earlier in the year before having the run snapped by Calgary.

7. Flames’ top line is arguably the NHL’s top line, too

Lindholm’s heat can spark an interesting debate.

Marner, Auston Matthews, and Michael Bunting have combined for 48 total points, including 40 at even strength, and a plus-26 rating since January 29. Calgary’s trio of Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk have 41 points — including 37 at even-strength — and a plus-35 rating. Toronto has played 11 games to Calgary’s 10.

The two are most certainly the hottest lines offensively in the league. Both can lay a claim to being the NHL’s best over the past four weeks, too. 

If the above aligns at least once more, the Flames will completely rewrite the franchise record book.

The 2021-22 edition of the club is one win away from sole possession of the organization’s win streak of 10, set from October 14-November 3, 1978 as the Atlanta Flames and equalled from February 21-March 13, 2017.

They’re humming.

Even if it doesn’t impress coach Darryl Sutter all that much.

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

+ Offside
+ Hockey
+ Flames