After sweep by Detroit, the Calgary Flames’ margin for error is disappearing

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
There weren’t a lot of positives to draw from the Calgary Flames’ 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
The Flames out-shot Detroit 28-20 at five-on-five, but were out-scored 3-1. They out-chanced Detroit 40-19 and had a high-danger edge 12-8, but couldn’t translate that into a bevvy of offence.
Their special teams units generated a really nice shorthanded goal to open the night’s scoring, only to see two second period penalties result in a pair of quick Red Wings PP goals – both within the first 15 seconds of their respective man advantages.
The Flames led this game for 3:37. They trailed for essentially the entire back half of this game, and lost their second game to Detroit in a week. Facing a team that was playing their third game in four nights on the road.
Following the game, head coach Darryl Sutter has a concise assessment: “I think there was a lack of emotion in our game.”
Sutter added that he had concerns about the first game back from long road trips, alluding to it being a challenge for the Flames at times this season. The Flames have had six road trips of three or more games this season. Here’s how they performed in their first game back in the five previous instances:
  • Nov. 12: 3-2 win over Winnipeg
  • Nov. 29: 6-2 win over Florida
  • Dec. 14: 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver
  • Dec. 27: 2-1 loss to Edmonton
  • Jan. 18: 4-1 loss to Colorado
“You need great goaltending to get through it,” said Sutter, of the emotional lulls of the first game back from a lengthy trip away. “Or a power play or a big penalty kill. Something big to happen. Didn’t get that.”
Chris Tanev, an alternate captain, took responsibility for the Flames’ lack of emotion, noting he had to be better.
“Obviously a must-win game and we didn’t show up in any aspect of the game,” said Tanev. “That’s my fault.”
He declined to criticize his teammates, but noted that the team’s play has been uneven.
“We’ve been a roller-coaster all year,” said Tanev. “Good one game, suck the next, good one game, suck the next. That’s on the leaders in here.”
Minute-munching blueliner Rasmus Andersson made his return to the Flames’ lineup on Thursday after missing three games after being hit by a car in Detroit. While that could have provided a big boost, Sutter was critical of Andersson’s play to begin the game.
“I thought he was very sluggish,” said Sutter. “I think he got better as the game went on, but I think the first period, he was off.”
The game was more or less a microcosm of the Flames’ season to this point. They have posted two winning streaks this season of three games, but none longer than that. Aside from those games, and five and seven-game losing streaks, they’ve been a win one, lose one team for much of the season, and they have yet to really get enough different elements of their game clicking at the same time to go on a run.
Frustratingly, despite this inconsistency, they’re within spitting distance of a Stanley Cup playoff spot. Win one, lose one should keep them in the hunt based on how weak the Western Conference seems to be this season, though their margin for error is extremely small. If they can find a way to go on a bit of a run, they could easily qualify for the playoffs.
But time is running low for the Flames to find a way to get enough parts of their game working to enable that to happen.
The Flames return to action on Saturday night against the New York Rangers.

Check out these posts...