The Calgary Flames are among the teams that trail in games the most

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
On Saturday night, the Calgary Flames found themselves in a familiar position. At 2:03 of the first period, on the first shot on goal registered by either team, the Flames allowed the opening goal.
And for the balance of Saturday’s game, the Flames did as they’ve done for a lot of the 2023-24 season: they chased the game, eventually losing to Vancouver by a 4-3 score.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Flames have trailed for 731:55 in all situations (half of the run-time of their games) and 566:37 of five-on-five play (just shy of half). Only Anaheim has trailed more often than the Flames overall, and nobody has trailed more at five-on-five than the Flames.
Following Saturday’s loss, head coach Ryan Huska assessed the team’s slow start.
“I thought we were on our heels early on and they started with more urgency than we did tonight,” said Huska.
“We can start on time and start better, you know, push the pace,” said defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, on how the team can avoid trailing early. “I thought that first 10 minutes, they sort of dictated the pace and we should be the one in our home building to dictate the pace in the first 10 minutes.”
The Flames have allowed the first goal in 15 of 24 games. Only New Jersey (17), Tampa Bay (17), Anaheim (16) and Montreal (16) have done so more frequently.
The Flames have trailed after the first period 12 times. Only Anaheim (15) and Tampa Bay (14) have done so more frequently.
The Flames have trailed after the second period 16 times. Only Montreal (17) has done so more frequently.
Huska noted on Saturday that he’s liked how his team responds when they get down in games. And when you look at their period-by-period goal differential, yeah, there’s a nice pattern:
  • They’re out-scored 31-20 in the first period; only Anaheim, San Jose and Buffalo have a worse goal differential in first periods.
  • They’re out-scored 25-19 in the second period; their goal differential is tied for eighth-worst in the league, which makes below average but not horribly so.
  • They out-score their opponents 29-23 in the third period; their goal differential is tied for seventh-best.
On one hand, the Flames build their game well. Sure, they start off slow and get behind early quite often, but they’re a team that settles in, takes over games and can grind their way back in.
On the other hand, that’s a tough way to play, and an even tougher way to try to win. While they’re one of the NHL’s better third period teams, they enter third periods trailing a lot.
After Saturday’s game, Postmedia’s Danny Austin pointed out that Vancouver went over 16 minutes without registering a shot to Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson. Andersson declined to give his group much credit for that stretch of play.
“Yeah, I mean, but that’s enough when you’re down 2-0, right?” said Andersson.
The Flames have shown the ability to come back in games, but that’s not a recipe for success. They need to be better early in games if they want to have any chance of sustained success this season.

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