February 08 2009 10:55AM
To be fair, the Flames are a streaky team, but this losing skid, which Anaheim stretched to four games yesterday afternoon, is the longest of the year. Unfortunately, things aren't going to get much easier.
When your best players aren't your best players, it's awful hard to win. So this abysmal stretch from Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla both is both symptomatic of the Flames' deeper problems (defense, scoring, leadership) as well as contributing to the shallower and more disconcerting one (losing).
Look, the Flames have lost three in a row a couple times this year, but even when they were doing that, you weren't saying to yourself that there was some sort of terrible problem. But somehow, even two games into this current streak, you had to know that this was a bad one. "Uninspired" doesn't begin to tell how bad the effort has been in the past week, nor does it aptly describe the remarkable lack of anything resembling solid play for more than five or 10 minutes at a clip.
Every single one of these losses has been to a team lower than the Flames in the standings. Chicago, of course, was close (and has since passed Calgary), but the other three losses have been to teams that Calgary led by an average of 11.7 points. And it's not like any of these teams were even playing especially well before they ran into Calgary and cut through them like a buzzsaw.
The worst part is, FlamesNation, which launched on Feb. 1, is 0-4. This may or may not be our fault.
- Curtis McElhinney had his best start of the season, allowing two goals on 25 shots. The Ducks didn't pressure too much but he was equal to most of the challenges he faced. Neither goal he conceded was really his doing. He was screened on the Bobby Ryan goal and was one-on-one with Corey Perry late in the second, so no fault there. Not a bad game at all, but he's still looking for his first career win.
- The late pressure was nice to see as well. At least the Flames didn't pack it in and had a few Grade-A chances after Cammalleri's goal in the final six or seven minutes.
- At least the Oilers got demolished by Detroit.
- You can't expect to win games if the offense is as ineffective as it was for the better part of the opening 53 minutes.
- Todd Bertuzzi had another rather poor game. He was a minus-1, took an offensive-zone penalty and had one shot on net. Good thing he got almost 20 minutes of ice time.
- Speaking of minus players, Dion Phaneuf was on the ice for both Anaheim goals and only had three shots despite getting 4:16 of power play time.
- Adam Pardy's giveaway that led to Perry's backbreaking goal was inexcusable. It's hard to guess for whom that pass was intended, if not Perry, but it was so foolhardy and poorly thought-out as to be laughable. Worse, it was ill-timed. A goal like, inside of 40 seconds to go, that to put a decent defensive team like the Ducks up 2-0 headed into the third period was bound to be a dagger. Pardy started out so well, but these last couple games have been embarrassing.