Ryan Huska says not finding a way to win in close games was the most ‘disappointing’ part of back-to-back losses

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
3 months ago
The Calgary Flames have 12 games left to play in the 2023-24 regular season, and their playoff hopes continue to dwindle. The Vegas Golden Knights, who currently occupy the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, are up 12 points on Calgary with the same number of games to go. Back-to-back losses to the Vancouver Canucks and the Buffalo Sabres appear to be the last two straws that broke the camel’s back.
Both games were close efforts, but the Flames were not able to come out on top. During his post-game chat with the media, Calgary head coach Ryan Huska talked about the most disappointing part of the two games was being within striking distance of a tie or a lead and not executing.
“Similar for me as it was in Vancouver; I mean, you’re in close games; you have to find a way to win,” Huska said. “I guess that’s what I’m disappointed about. It’s 1-1 with 10 minutes left in the third, you want to find a way to win those games.”
Whether the game was decided more on finishing or winning the smaller battles, Huska believed it was a bit of both against the Sabres, especially considering chances weren’t as “plentiful” up and down the ice for either team.
As Huska said, the score was 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining in the third period. Peyton Krebs scored in the first period, breaking a 29-game goalless drought, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored on the power play after the puck bounced off the Sabres’ young defenceman Owen Power’s stick.
There are a few key moments where the failed execution narrative comes into play, particularly in the second period when Martin Pospisil was unable to score on a breakaway after attempting a fake slapshot and giving the Sabres goaltender not much of a challenging shot following the attempt.
Additionally, both goaltenders, Dustin Wolf, and Ukko Pekka-Luukkonen, had strong nights after allowing the first goals, but the Sabres’ were able to get the game-winner thanks to a strong forecheck from Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch resulted in a failed execution both with the puck and on defence, as JJ Peterka was left all alone in front of the net and took advantage.
Then, the first of two empty-net goals was scored after Thompson picked the pocket of Yegor Sharangovich on a breakout attempt.
Overall, the Sabres did generate the majority of the chances, but the Flames had enough chances to pull away, or, at the very least, take the lead and trust their goaltender enough to play from that position. But, because of not being able to execute, it cost them valuable points in both of the games this weekend.
Good teams execute even when they’re being out-chanced in the worst of ways, and as of now, the Flames are not that team. That doesn’t mean they can’t get there, but this season is the start of the journey to that destination, and the Flames coaching staff understands that, even with as much as they want to make the post-season.
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