‘Missed opportunity for sure’: Head coach Ryan Huska disappointed with how Calgary Flames entered the American Thanksgiving holiday

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
8 months ago
The Calgary Flames were looking to hit the .500 mark before entering the American Thanksgiving holiday with a win over the Nashville Predators. However, the result was the complete opposite.
After a decent first period where the Flames led the expected goals battle, the Predators took a commanding lead in the shot and xG department for the rest of the game. In the second period, Nashville had a 69.66 expected goals for percentage (xGF%), including a shot differential of 4-14 and a 78.82 xGF% in the third at 5v5.
It was utter domination by a Predators team that wanted to exact revenge on the Flames after arguably their worst performance of the season in Calgary earlier in the year. Head coach Ryan Huska wasn’t happy with how the Flames performed with the chance of getting back to .500 despite their rough start.
“Missed opportunity for sure. More disappointing is the way we played tonight. I think that was the part that [the players] probably not happy with and we’re not happy with. It was a step back tonight, but now it’s how you respond a lot of times. We’ve talked about that a lot this year, so now it’s time to respond.”
Via @NHLFLames on Twitter/X
American Thanksgiving is widely known as a “predictor” of the NHL postseason, and my colleague Justin Mackenzie wrote about whether or not they’re likely to beat the odds and make the playoffs, but with this previous game under their belt (and not in the way they wanted it to be), that’s just another obstacle in the way.
The Flames had been playing good hockey before their trip down to Music City, and at certain points, we were able to see the kind of systems they wanted to run. Nazem Kadri, in particular, was a catalyst for plenty of the Flames’ chances early in the game. However, that didn’t continue for the full 60 minutes, and Jacob Markstrom was often left out to dry out in front of the net.
Part of the reason that the Flames struggled so much was the play of the goaltender on the other side of the game, Juuse Saros. He finished the game with a 1.22 goals saved above expected (GSAx) and came up big when the Flames pressed in the first period.
Now, with a day’s break for every team in the schedule and a long stretch of games against playoff-level teams, the Flames are going to need a major bounce back, as Coach Huska alluded to, if they want any chance of making the postseason. We’re through 19 games of this NHL season, and the Flames are already in a tough spot, so lots of wins leading up to the Christmas break and a big response will make or break the season.

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