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Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Flames chase the game against Vancouver

The Calgary Flames played with poise and execution on Friday in their win in Edmonton. Those qualities were lacking early against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, and their tough start was the largest factor in their 21st loss of the season.

The Flames allowed the first goal of the game for the 25th time ths season. They trailed after 20 minutes for the 15th time and after 40 minutes for the 22nd time. In the words of interim head coach Geoff Ward, they chased.

“Well, we sure didn’t get out to the start that we wanted,” said Ward. “We got behind early in the hockey game and then we chased it the rest of the night. For whatever reason they were more prepared to start than we were. They’re a great first period team, they have been all year. We just didn’t come out with the start that we needed. I thought that we got out-worked early. I thought that we got out-executed early. And then we find ourselves in a hole, then you start chasing the game, and that’s exactly what we did.”

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The Flames pulled David Rittich for the second time this season. According to Ward, the intention was to spark the group: “I just felt for us we needed something different at that point.”

Flames alternate captain Matthew Tkachuk defended the team’s top netminder following the loss.

“He definitely in my mind didn’t struggle tonight, at all,” said Tkachuk. “I just think maybe it was 3-0 after the first 10 minutes and our team, we needed a wake-up call there because we were hanging him out to dry.”

Rough night at the face-off dot

The Flames weren’t great on their draws on Sunday night. They won just 20 of 63 face-offs (32%). Nobody won more than 50% of their draws. The regular face-off guys won 8% (Monahan), 30% (Jankowski), 43% (Lindholm) and 50% (Ryan).

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That’s not good.

And while the Flames have had evenings where they lose draws but work well on puck retrievals, they weren’t great on that against Vancouver. The coach summed it up fairly well.

We struggled on face-offs. They dominated us in the face-off circle. But I thought too that our forechecking wasn’t effective tonight, or as effective as it has been in some other games. They were able to stretch us out and get through pretty well. I thought they hit their stretch play pretty good for a large majority of the night. We didn’t give them enough trouble with their exits – as much trouble as we need to or as much trouble as we normally do.