December 22 2016 08:00AM
The Flames have been dressing rather consistent lineups as of late. Unfortunately, their ability to score at even strength seems to have dried up, while their powerplay - loading their top talent alongside one another - has been thriving.
It's only natural to question and propose new lineups in such a time. There are a number of key questions on what the lineup should look like, too, so let's tackle that.
December 21 2016 08:00AM
Strike one: the Flames were playing in the second game of a back-to-back. Calgary has played in six such situations this year. They have collected six of a possible 12 points, two being of the loser variety. They have had one convincing win in such scenarios. Back-to-backs are not typically a team's friend.
Strike two: they were playing a back-to-back game against an obviously superior opponent. The Flames defeated the Sharks earlier this season; this time, they lost. This is a team at the top of the Pacific Division - for real, not like when the Flames were with the benefit of having played way more games than everyone else - and a team that is a legitimate contender, made it to the Final last year.
It's fine. A win would have been nice. Taking it to at least overtime would have been, too. But sometimes factors pile up against you and you just lose. Onwards.
December 20 2016 08:00AM
The Flames' first two games of the season against the Coyotes were rather similar: both 2-1 overtime wins for Calgary. So when the Coyotes scored their first goal, I figured, well, they'll get 'em right back. When the Flames got their first goal, I figured we were waiting for overtime. But then they got their second, and the Coyotes got their second, and it ended with the Flames potting their second empty netter of the season rather than another overtime frame.
So it was pretty different in that sense.
It wasn't different in the sense that the Flames beat the Coyotes, or that they got another powerplay goal (or three), or that Sean Monahan extended his points streak to 10 games or Johnny Gaudreau his to eight (including, obviously, all seven since he returned to the lineup). Those weren't new, but they were good.
It was nice to see them get a win again, too.
December 17 2016 02:00PM
The Flames have lost two games in a row.
It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of their playoff chase. They're on the outside looking in once again, but they're still in the conversation.
Except it took them a six-game winning streak to get back into that conversation to begin with, to pull themselves up to a respectable record. The leeway they've earned with that has almost run out; that's how far back they set themselves with their dismal start to the season.
So let's take a moment to look at the Flames' winning streak. Was it for real? Or was it just a one-off?
December 17 2016 08:00AM
A hearty congratulations to the Flames, who now have 34 points in 33 games played, just barely clinging to over .500. That is not an enviable position; the eighth worst team in the NHL has a .500 record.
On the other hand, that's not entirely fair to Calgary. We aren't used to thinking of the Columbus Blue Jackets as a good team, probably because they mostly haven't been one, and the Flames barely see them to begin with (they finish the season series already with a clean 1-1 split). They're the best team in the NHL in points percentage, and there is some evidence of underlying numbers to back them up: they're an over 50% 5v5 CF team.
The Flames are, uh, not. And it really showed last night. They were comically outplayed until the third period. The Jackets had a three-goal lead with 12:29 still left in the second, and the Flames didn't even attempt to get going offensively until the third period. You could tell they weren't going to be able to compete against this team as early as the first; not getting anything going until it was pretty much out of reach just confirmed they were never in this one.