The numbers are ugly for the Calgary Flames


When Glen Gulutzan took the job in Calgary, he called the Flames a team “on the cusp.”

Fourteen games into the season, however, and it’s clear the new head coach still has work to do. The Flames fell to 5-8-1 after a very tough weekend in California. They got stomped, 5-0, by the Kings on Saturday, then dropped a 4-1 decision to the Ducks on Sunday.

“Obviously we’re not generating (offense), but it’s the goals against that’s a concern,” Gulutzan said, per the Calgary Herald. “The last two games, that’s the biggest concern for me.”

The Flames haven’t been all bad this season. Two weeks ago, they won back-to-back in Chicago and St. Louis, then got back to .500 with a third straight victory over Ottawa.

But they weren’t able to sustain that form. Four losses in their next five followed, and the numbers after 14 games paint a pretty ugly picture:

Goals for: 22nd.

Goals against: 28th.

The power play: 28th.

The penalty kill: 29th.

Brian Elliott: 3-6-0 with an .887 save percentage.

Johnny Gaudreau: minus-11.

Sean Monahan: minus-10.

Gaudreau and Monahan each have just one assist in their last five games, so expect them to go even further under the microscope. Those two are getting paid big money now; they’re supposed to be Calgary’s version of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

As for Elliott, he strung together a few solid outings at the end of last month, but it’s going to take a lot more than that before his numbers are back to respectable.

None of the above is to say Gulutzan was wrong about the potential in Calgary. Gaudreau is only 23, Monahan 22. Beyond those two, Sam Bennett is only 20, Matthew Tkachuk just 18. There is definitely potential.

But there is also urgency. The Flames’ best defenseman, Mark Giordano, turned 33 last month, and that’s not exactly young. True, T.J. BrodieDougie Hamilton, and Jyrki Jokipakka are still in their mid-20s, but unless you believe it’s one of those three, there is no future No. 1 defenseman who can replace Giordano. (Calgary has not chosen a d-man in the first round since Tim Erixon in 2009.)

It begs the question: how long can Giordano maintain his high level of play? For comparison’s sake, Zdeno Chara was 34 when he won his first Stanley Cup in 2011. He remained among the NHL’s best for a couple of more years, but alas, even the greats slow down with age.

The Flames have a few days off before the Dallas Stars pay a visit Thursday. They’ll want to make hay with four home games in their next five, because a six-game road trip is looming at the end of the month.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.