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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

November sucked, but the Flames escape with .500 record

On Nov. 3, the Flames blew an early lead against the Washington Capitals. They lost that game by a 4-2 score. From that point onward, their month got progressively worse and ended up as the worst month in franchise history.

On Nov. 5, the Flames got back in the win column by way of a dramatic comeback win over the Arizona Coyotes. The win was seemingly the last straw for Bill Peters, who called out his team following the game in his comments to the media for their reliance on dramatic comebacks (rather than playing from the opening puck drop).

Let’s not be counting on this. It’s not a recipe for success long term. It’s not a recipe for success at all. Let’s start on time, let’s get physically engaged. Hopefully we’re able to make some changes, because we look flat, we look comfortable. We look too comfortable.

The team had a meeting prior to their next game against the New Jersey Devils, hashing out some frustrations. The players left the meeting feeling good and end up beating New Jersey 5-2 (though they were trailing after the first period).

It was the last game they would win for over two weeks.

The Flames’ next game was against the St. Louis Blues. They didn’t look awful, but they were out-played by the Blues in basically every aspect of the game by small margins. They lost 3-2 in overtime. Two days later, they lost 3-1 to the Dallas Stars.

On Nov. 14, as the team prepared for a road trip to play a pair of divisional foes in Arizona and Vegas, TJ Brodie collapsed during practice. While a serious illness was quickly ruled out, the Flames were forced to do without his services on the top pairing for over a week. They flew to the desert and lost both games via shutout (by a combined 9-0 score). Sam Bennett was injured in Arizona, while Travis Hamonic was injured against Vegas.

On Nov. 21, the Flames’ losing skid was extended to six games with another loss to St. Louis. This time they suffered their third shutout in four games. The team had a players only meeting following the loss – delaying the media contingent’s arrival in the locker room. To add insult to injury, their planned charter flight out of town was postponed due to mechanical issues en route to pick them up.

The Flames finally got back into the win column on Nov. 23 in Philadelphia with a come-from-behind 3-2 shootout win. Two days later they required another comeback to force overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the game, Akim Aliu went public with allegations regarding Bill Peters’ past usage of racially charged language. Peters wasn’t made available to the media following the game.

By Nov. 26, Peters was being sequestered at the hotel away from the team and Geoff Ward was running practice. Ward coached the team to a 3-2 overtime win over Buffalo on Nov. 27 before being officially named interim coach upon Peters’ resignation on Nov. 29. The Flames finished the month off with a 3-1 win over Ottawa on Nov. 30.

The victory allowed the Flames to finish the month, improbably, with a 6-6-2 record.

Following the victory over the Senators, Flames alternate captain (and leading scorer) Matthew Tkachuk noted he saw some improvements from the team since their last loss to the Blues. In a month that featured several key injuries, a six game losing streak, three shutouts, a scary medical episode, and as chaotic a coaching exit as the NHL has ever seen, the Flames are probably happy to get out of the month’s games with a .500 record.

“We’ll take it [given] where we were a week ago in Philly,” said Tkachuk. “Getting three of the past four wins, points in four [games] in a row, I think it’s what we needed after that St. Louis game.”

Ward, following his second win as interim coach, noted the team was happy to have the month behind them but not satisfied with where they were at:

For us it’s been a tough month with travel. It’s been a tough month with everything that’s happened. We’ve had some injuries. All in all, yeah, we’ll take it and move forward. We can be happy with the progress we’re making right now, but we sure can’t be satisfied with it because there’s a lot more there that we can do and there are a lot of areas where we still need to improve to ultimately get to where we need to be as a team.

The Flames (13-12-4) return to action on Thursday night when they host the Sabres.