‘I don’t think we were connected’: Flames head coach Ryan Huska expresses distaste for the team’s first period against Chicago

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
3 months ago
The Calgary Flames lost yet another game to the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, by a score of 3-1.
It was a tale of not competing for the full 60 minutes, but the issues began at the beginning of the game instead of the end. In the first period, the Flames allowed two goals, one to Seth Jones on an early power-play that was a 5-on-3 before Calgary was able to kill off the first penalty and the other at even-strength to Jason Dickinson on a 2-on-1 rush.
The shots between the Blackhawks, holding a record of 20-46-5 at the time, and the Flames, sitting at 33-32-5 before the final, by the time the second goal entered the net was 11-4 in favour of Chicago.
Flames head coach Ryan Huska was not pleased with his team’s effort in the first, even with the penalties.
“Penalty aside, I didn’t like our first period,” Huska said when speaking with the media following the game. “I don’t think we were connected at all. We had defencemen and forwards not on the same page with how we had to play. Second and third, we got better, but I don’t like the way we started the game tonight.”
The two-on-one goal was created by the forwards and defencemen not communicating well enough. Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson pinched slightly down the wall, and forward A.J. Greer was still pressuring the puck, which allowed the Chicago forward Joey Anderson to sneak beyond the blue line untouched.
As mentioned previously, the Flames were able to kill off one of the two penalties that led to the 5-on-3, but unfortunately, the second one came to bite them in the behind and led them to lose any fire they might have had as a result.
“When you kill off a 5-on-3, a lengthy one, it has the tendency to [generate momentum],” Huska said. “But they finished the opportunity, and that’s how they were able to shift it back in their favor, and I thought we were more on our heels for the rest of the first period.”
For the rest of the game, though, the Flames played like the team they should have in the first period, dominating the shots 34-12 over the final 40 minutes.
The only goal they received was off the stick of defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, who added to his fantastic season total with his 17th.
When it comes to the team’s effort, though, playing only the second and third periods at a competitive pace is not good enough.
“I think there’s still more to be desired,” Huska said. “When the game is on the line, you see the urgency level get pushed up a little bit from our guys but that should be that way from the start. So that’s the area tonight that we have to fix and change for St. Louis.”
Coach Huska wants to kick the habit of not playing the full 60 minutes as he continues to help develop the younger players in the lineup to play playoff-calibre hockey. If the team can’t play a full 60 minutes against teams far below them in the standings, the likelihood they will carry that over against teams far above them is slim to none.
The Blackhawks have been giving the Flames fits in recent history, but there’s no excuse for losing in the fashion that they did. If it were a case of the teams going back and forth at full effort all 60 minutes, we may be able to have a quality discussion. However, that was not the case. Even though they destroyed Chicago in the shot battle for the final 40, the shots that Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek had to face weren’t the most challenging, which is an important caveat.
The Flames are close to being officially eliminated from playoff contention, so now it’s about giving fans decent hockey to watch. But, the game against the Blackhawks was not representative of that idea.
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