Penguins, Flames and Blues off to disappointing starts, can they get better?
The Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames came into this season with Stanley Cup aspirations.
All three teams were considered contenders by many experts coming into this season. For example, ESPN ranked the Flames 8th, Blues 10th and Penguins 11th before opening night.
At the conclusion of the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup, BetMGM gave the Flames the 8th best odds to win it all in 2023 at +1800. Meanwhile, the Penguins (+2000) were 11th and the Blues (+2200) ranked 12th.
For some additional context, the Boston Bruins (+2500) were ranked 13th at the time. Now at BetMGM, the Bruins are second at (+800) while the Blues (+6000) have dropped dramatically to 19. The Penguins also dropped to 14 at +2200. As for the Flames, oddsmakers still believe in them as they’ve moved up to 6 at +1200.
Penguins, Flames, and Blues! Oh My!
Pittsburgh Penguins: 6-7-3, 15 points (7th place in Metropolitan Division)
Head coach Mike Sullivan has got to be scratching his head this season. It’s not like he doesn’t have a bunch of future hall of fame players at his disposal in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.
Scoring really isn’t the problem in Pittsburgh as they rank 8th in Goals For with 3.5 per game. The issue is keeping the puck out as they’ve allowed the 26th most Goals Against per game in the league at 3.56 and have a goal differential of -1.
The Penguins need to tighten up defensively and reduce the shots against as they rank 26th at 34.3 a game. If they can get back to basics, they have a chance to turn things around.
St. Louis Blues: 7-8-0, 14 points (7th place in Central Division)
Things are looking up for the St. Louis Blues as Jordan Binnington has been rock solid in net and they’ve won 4 straight. That being said, the team was mired in a very long losing streak that has them in a hole.
Unlike the Penguins, the Blues issue is scoring as they rank 29th in Goals For with just 2.6 per game. Meanwhile, their Goals Against for the season hasn’t been great allowing 3.47 per contest and ranking 25th. The Blues also need to temper the shots against as they’re 21st at 32.9 a game.
For the Blues, they need Ryan O’Reilly to start producing as he has just 7 points in 15 games. Same for Jordan Kyrou, who has 8 points on the year. Things will get better soon once Pavel Buchnevich returns from LTIR.
Calgary Flames: 7-6-2, 16 points (5th place in Pacific Division)
The Flames have simply been inconsistent and it could likely be a byproduct of losing key players in Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan.
They were replaced with great players like Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and Mackenzie Weegar but it’s still new personnel that needs time to adjust to a new system.
Offensively, the Flames are middle of the pack with 3.13 Goals For per game. Once Huberdeau gets going they’ll climb up from their current rank of 16th. It’s keeping the puck out that been a problem this season at they sit 22nd at 3.33 Goals Against per game.
What the Flames need is better goaltending as last year’s Vezina finalist Jacob Markstrom has a save percentage of .889. His backup, Dan Vlader is not faring any better with an .881 save percentage.
Once Markstrom rights himself, the Flames will climb up the standings because Calgary does a good job at keeping shots against low. They rank 5th in that department with just 27.9 against per game.
All stats via NHL.com