Through 11 games, the Calgary Flames are a team that’s been pretty inconsistent. One of their big weak spots is their starts. Both early in games and early in periods, the Flames just aren’t quite where they need to be to be successful.
The Flames have allowed the first goal eight times in 11 games – tied with Toronto for the most in the NHL. They’re 2-5-1 when allowing the opening goal, contrasted with 3-0-0 when they score the first goal.
Through 11 games, the Flames also have a unique distinction: nobody’s trailed more in the entire NHL. And they lead by an awful lot.
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) October 23, 2019
The other big challenge for the Flames is they tend to give up goals or take penalties early in periods. They’ve played 35 periods, including two overtimes. They’ve taken a penalty or allowed a goal in the first minute in eight separate games – just shy of a quarter of all periods they’ve played. The three games where they kept it together? Their trio of games against San Jose, Philadelphia and Detroit, generally regarded as their best three games.
Following their loss to Washington, Flames goalie Cam Talbot was asked about the rough start to periods:
I can’t pinpoint one thing. Last couple games, right after we tied the game they came down and scored. If we can get the puck deep, maybe they don’t get that transition. Same thing the other night in Anaheim. But you know, I think it’s just puck management on our end. It’s nothing that the other team’s creating, it’s what we’re giving which is a positive because once we start cleaning that up we’ll be okay.
Head coach Bill Peters points to a specific aspect of puck management, face-off, as the key challenge they’ve been having:
I look at the face-offs in the first period, too, have been problematic. We haven’t won enough, we haven’t had the puck enough early in games. And in saying that I didn’t think we gave up much in the first, but still there’s another level to get to.
So what do the Flames need to do to find their extra oomph early in periods? Do they need new lines? Do they need to change up their centers? Or do they simply need to ride things out and hope that as chemistry develops, their puck management will improve?
What would you do to fix things if you were behind the bench? Sound off in the comments!