I have only really given this much thought over the past few days after reading a bunch of comments on few Flames articles where fans are calling for Gulutzan to be fired. So my initial thoughts where i also thought Bob Hartley's job was secure a few years ago. He was 1 year away from winning the Jack Adams and his goaltending tandem that fell apart the next year didn't seem to be his doing. There are also some little surprise firings of coaches from time to time. So let me brain storm.
So as we learnt from Hartley a Jack Adams award for best coach doesn't keep your job safe for long. Gulutzan first year as Flames head coach after a not so successful first stint as head coach in Dallas was 2016-2017 season. With the Flames it started out poorly there was calls for his head from fans within the first 20 games after a poor start. Then the Flames started turning it around and by the second half we where playing like a contender winning a lot more than losing and surged into a playoff spot sneaking into a 1st place wild card. Then we got swept by the Ducks.
So that sweep by the Ducks costed Brian Elliot a starters position in the Flames organization and had the Flames fix the goaltending positions a year after they just fixed it. So if that costs a goalie a starters job and goaltending was a big part of Hartley losing his job. How safe was Gulutzans position to start the year? I would say safe because of the amazing second half of the regular season but again i have been wrong before.
So the Flames start off so so this year and that is with Mike Smith playing unreal for the first while. Our goals against per game has gone up with better goaltending from Smith and lets not forget we brought in Hamonic while keeping trade deadline acquisition Stone to shore up our D. We are suppose to have one of the best D cores in the league. So where in lies the problem? Our young forwards have gotten better with age with the exception of Bennett so far. Gulutzan is running the same top 6 we where last year with at least equal ability to last years in the bottom 6. So by that account it doesn't appear to be the players, least on paper.
Specialty teams is a huge part of hockey. So how do we stack up there. Our power play has been respectable. We just lost Versteeg but that should not collapse our stats specially with the second unit getting better. We currently are in the middle of the pack at 20.4% (Best is 27.8%). Our PK started off really good then tanked for awhile and now seems to be coming back again. We are at the bottom of the league with a 75.3% (Best is 89.5%) Our power play is good enough but our penalty kill has not been so right now we are not passing the Specialty teams test. Our OT and shoot out ability is lights out good. Best record in the NHL passed regulation. I thank Johnny and Mohnny for that.
Our advanced stats are very promising. We are sitting with a cf% of 52.50 which has us 7th best in the league.We get more shots on net than against sitting 7th in the league for shots for and 12th in shots against. We sit 4th worst in high danger chances against and 8th best in high danger chances for. Our own zone stats are only ones that are below average while everything else is pretty strong.
Even with our record not being great for a win now team expecting to be a contender and our own zone deficiencies i think Gulutzan still has a pretty long leash at the moment. I wouldn't expect any change till the off season. If we miss the playoffs or even an early playoff exit i could see ownership making a change then.