For the past month and a bit, the Calgary Flames have been one of the best teams in the NHL.
They’ve done it somewhat under the radar, with most of the league’s attention on a certain team from Columbus.
And to be sure, the Flames are still only just in a playoff spot, thanks to the rocky start they had under new head coach Glen Gulutzan.
But there’s no doubt that the potential Gulutzan saw when he got the job is starting to be realized. With Saturday’s 3-1 win over Vancouver, Calgary improved to 12-5-0 in its last 17 games.
“We’ve gotten accustomed to the way we want to play,” Gulutzan told PHT Friday. “We’ve had some success in the last 15, 16 games. We still got lots of work to do; we got young guys. But I think the grasp of the system is there certainly.”
The Flames were not a good puck-possession team under their last coach, Bob Hartley, who was fired for partly that reason.
Under Gulutzan, their possession stats have improved.
Another reason Hartley was let go was special teams.
And again, under Gulutzan, there’s been improvement. The power play has jumped from 22nd to 12th, the penalty killing from 30th to 17th.
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Even Calgary’s goaltending, which remains poor relative to the rest of the NHL, has been better, thanks to the savvy signing of backup Chad Johnson by GM Brad Treliving.
In fact, calling Johnson the backup is probably unfair the way things have played out. He’s been far better than the guy everyone thought would be the starter, Brian Elliott.
The Flames are in Winnipeg tonight, after which they’ll play five of their next six at home.
Of note, two games against the Oilers are on the horizon later this month, representing an opportunity for Calgary to possibly move out of a wild-card spot and into third place in the Pacific Division.