Is Sutter finally ready to adjust Flames’ goalie approach? He should be.

Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar prepares for action in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche. (David Zalubowski/AP)

CALGARY — No one expected Darryl Sutter to reveal his next starter, let alone the goalie plan moving forward.

But with everyone in town focused on the goaltending inadequacies that came to a head in overtime Monday night against Ottawa, the hope was Sutter would at least acknowledge the struggles Jacob Markstrom has had of late, and that something needed to change.

Returning to the Dome Wednesday for the first time in 20 days, Sutter was asked right away if his goaltending has been good enough lately.

“I think our goaltending this year has been streaky… both our goalies,” said Sutter, who went into some detail on adjusting to the various peaks and valleys in net Flames fans have been all too familiar with this season.

Pressed on whether he’s considering spelling off Markstrom in favour of Dan Vladar as he did earlier in the season, he balked.

“I’m not getting into individual stuff,” he said, as expected. “That’s for you to go talk to players. 

“You want me to transfer something through the media, that’s not the way it works with me.”

Well, we’ve gotta ask.

We couldn’t discuss the situation with Markstrom, as he wasn’t made available to the media Wednesday due to an off-site appointment.

Tough for him to comment anyway, as the veteran would be the first to admit he has to be better than he showed in Monday’s loss when the overtime winner shouldn’t have been able to squeeze through him as part of the team’s late collapse.

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Exhibiting plenty of frustration throughout a season in which his 2.93 GAA and .891 save percentage are his worst in eight seasons, Markstrom could benefit from a week off.     

The obvious move to everyone in town is to ride Vladar’s hot hand, giving Markstrom time to continue recalibrating.

It worked earlier in the season. 

The points are too important, the stakes are too high to keep hoping Markstrom will play his way out of it anytime soon.

Time is running out.

To say Sutter isn’t one to put much stock into the opinion of anyone outside the organization is akin to suggesting dogs find fleas mildly irritating.

It’s an understatement.   

But the coach did credit an alumni member who offered up wisdom applicable to this situation.

“I talked to Mike Vernon about this a while ago, and it’s true — the best way to answer all your questions: you need two goalies,” said Sutter. “So, that ratio is closing up for us.”

The ratio that has long seen Sutter start his proven veteran upwards of 65 games a season has certainly closed, which has as much to do with Vladar’s steadiness this season as it does Markstrom’s uncharacteristic inconsistency.

Last year Markstrom had 63 starts, leaving 19 to Vladar.

Understandable, as one was a Vezina Trophy runner-up, the other an unproven rookie.

This year, Vladar’s numbers are better than Markstrom’s across the board, which includes a 13-game point streak the Czech revelation just came off of.

The starts are 36-18, yet Vladar’s 11-5-4 record dwarfs that of Markstrom’s 14-13-7. 

“If you can ever get into that 50-30 split area… and that’s kind of where we are,” said Sutter, who would have to split the remaining 28 starts evenly for it to be a 50-32 finish. “Quite honestly, it’s not so much Marky’s starts, it’s Vladar being able to handle when he gets three or four in a row.

“The next one, we start seeing it, because he’s a kid. … You start seeing things in his game, so you’ve got to pull that back.”

His insinuation the 25-year-old still hasn’t proven he can run with the ball for long is something fans believe Vladar can prove him wrong on, if given the chance.

The solution, and obvious course of action, should be to give Vladar the net for the next three home games.

From there, reward starts based on merit.

Indeed, both will have to be sharp for this team to stay in the playoff race.

But only one of the two deserves the next assignment.

Markstrom will undoubtedly find his game again.

Vladar’s has been on point for far too long to deny him anymore.

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