Flames’ bad habits pile up in loss to Predators, losing skid hits three games
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike4 months ago
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The 2022-23 Calgary Flames have the makings of a good team. The individual pieces they’ve assembled look rock-solid and have shown much promise. But even the best teams lose a bunch of games. Last season’s division-winners lost 32 games, but usually seemed engaged and energetic even in losses.
Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators might have been the most uninspired effort of their 121 games under Darryl Sutter.
Missing blueliner Chris Tanev due to what the club termed as an upper-body injury, the Flames slotted Connor Mackey into the lineup and shuffled their pairings – Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin were the lone regular pairing in action.
Perhaps due to Tanev’s absence, the Flames seemed on their back foot from the get-go. They were out-shot and out-chanced in the opening 20 minutes. Nashville scored twice more early in the second period, then added an empty-netter for the 4-1 victory. Difficulty defending, transitioning the puck, and puck management – things that showed up here and there early in the season – were prevalent in the loss.
“Got a different defence,” noted Sutter, regarding the team’s challenging start. “Still very much trying to find partners and, pretty obvious. Got to be a good partner. Give your partner another second, tell him what to do, things like that.”
Flames forward Blake Coleman, who scored the lone goal for the home side, had a pretty blunt assessment of the team’s performance.
“Just unacceptable,” said Coleman. “It was a complete lack of energy. There was just nothing.”
Coming on the heels of home losses to Edmonton and Seattle that saw the Flames squander third period leads, Thursday’s game saw them never hold a lead at all. The prior two games saw the Flames play some sections that featured lapses, but they found ways to snap out of it. Against the Predators, they never found a spark.
The Flames were out-scored 2-1 at even strength and 1-0 on special teams, with their power play generating some decent looks but never quite finding enough execution to break through. The Flames were down 3-0 before they began to get their game together, something that was probably also enabled by score effects and Nashville starting to look ahead to their next game.
“I think we had a good game plan,” noted Sutter. “But you have to have the courage to execute it. Nashville is a big, strong team.”
The loss drops the Flames to 5-4-0, and drops them to .500 (4-4-0) at home.
“It’s been addressed,” said Coleman of the team’s internal response to their performance in the loss. “You learn from this. Like I said, it’s not a habit, it’s a one-time thing. We move on and we get back on the horse. But three in a row at home, just completely unacceptable.”
“We weren’t ready to play and put ourselves in that hole,” said Elias Lindholm. “And it’s tough to win when you play like that.”
The Flames conclude their season-high eight game homestand on Saturday night against New Jersey.
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