Goaltending questions arise after Calgary Flames’ early exit from NHL playoffs

Goaltending questions arise for Flames

CALGARY — The momentum from the back half of their season halted by a quick and early exit from the playoffs, the Calgary Flames face a goaltending dilemma for the second off-season in a row.

Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson are both unrestricted free agents after one season in Calgary.

General manager Brad Treliving acquired Elliott from St. Louis in a trade and signed Johnson as a free agent last summer in hopes the duo was the answer to their goaltending woes then.

They were in the regular season, but not in the playoffs. Elliott gave up soft goals in three of the four losses to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

He was pulled in the opening minutes of Game 4 and replaced by Johnson, who gave up an early goal in relief in a 3-1 loss.

Elliott, 32, and Johnson, 30, both expressed interest in re-signing.

“I’ve always had deals done pretty quick or during the season,” Elliott said. “This is kind of new for me to end the season with nothing on the table as far as contracts.”

Johnson, a Calgary native who supplanted Elliott for a stretch early in the season, made it clear he no longer wants to be a backup.

“My heart is here. There’s no denying that,” Johnson said.  “I want to be a 1a goalie. I think I’ve proven I can be a 1b. “

The Flames were slow out of the gates in 2016-17 as they adjusted to new coach Glen Gulutzan, assistants David Cameron and Paul Jerrad as well as unfamiliar goalies.

Winger Johnny Gaudreau missed training camp because of a contract dispute before signing a six-year deal worth $6.75 million annually. The Flames added forward Kris Versteeg to the team on opening day.

But Calgary’s special teams and defence eventually came together.

The Flames posted one of the best records in the NHL after Nov. 15 (40-23-3), en route to claiming the first wild card playoff berth in the Western Conference with a 45-33-4 record. 

“We started to believe in the second half of the season we were a good team,” captain Mark Giordano said. “We were right up there with any team in the league. It’s good we’ve laid down that foundation.”

“Obviously getting into the playoffs was huge for our organization, but now it’s time to take that next step.”

The Flames went 10-4 in March, but 1-3 the final week of the regular season. The division-winning Ducks were on more of a roll going 8-0-2 into their series.

“We kind of limped in after making the playoffs,” Elliott. “You can be proud of yourself to clinch a spot, but you also have to be clicking.

“You look at Chicago and they went 1-4-1 going into the playoffs after having an unbelievable season, thinking ‘these guys could win the Cup again’ and (they’re) out in four games.”

Versteeg, along with Michael Stone, Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman will also be unrestricted free agents July 1.

Wideman, 34, won’t likely return. He and the Flames are being sued by NHL linesman Don Henderson.

Wideman is alleged to have deliberately shoved his stick in Henderson’s back during a regular season game during the 2015-16 season.

Henderson has filed a lawsuit over multiple injuries he said he sustained in the incident.

“It’s a legal proceeding in front of the courts,” Treliving said. “We’re just not going to comment on it.”

Calgary’s restricted free agents include Sam Bennett, trade-deadline pickup Curtis Lazar, and wingers Michael Ferland and Alex Chiasson.

Sean Monahan, 22, and Bennett, 20, were top playoff performers.

Monahan scored four power-play goals in as many games. Bennett played an abrasive game and had two goals.

Monahan, who signed a seven-year contract last summer, led Calgary in goals this season with 27.

The centre was invited to play for Canada at the upcoming men’s world championship, but declined to undergo wrist surgery.

Mikael Backlund had a breakout performance with 22 goals and 31 assists and a plus-nine rating that put him in the conversation for the Selke Trophy.

Gaudreau ran hot and cold this season in part because of his absence from training camp and a hand injury in November. The 23-year-old led the Flames in points with 61 in 72 games.

Playing on a line with Monahan and Ferland, Gaudreau was held without a goal in the post-season. 

“I look at the quality chances they had, that line specifically and Johnny, I’m happy with the way they played,” Gulutzan said.

“They created the most offence for us in the series, actually the most in the series. It just never went in.”

Contractual issues extend into management as Treliving is at the end of his. He believes the Flames are on the cusp of being a team that can contend for a Stanley Cup.

“But our message to the players is, it doesn’t happen because we think we are,” he said. “It doesn’t happen because we’re going to be a year old and a year wiser. It happens because we’re going to put the work in.

“I think it’s time we raised the bar.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Most Read