Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames earn (and lose) a point in shootout loss to the New York Islanders
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
What you take from Saturday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and the New York Islanders could be an insight in your personal state of mind, or into just how odd the Flames’ 2023-24 season has been to this point.
The Flames lost to the Islanders after a shootout via a 5-4 score. In a sense, they both earned a point and saw one slip away.
Flames defenceman MacKenzie Weegar summed up the game rather astutely when speaking to the assembled media afterwards.
“I thought it was a weird game, a little bit,” said Weegar. “I thought we came out a little dull, and then it was kind of a rollercoaster.”
The Flames got out to a 1-0 lead, which they held for all of 4:36. They trailed for 29:16 overall, including stretches where they trailed 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 and 4-3. But they battled back, twice, to tie the game at 3-3 and 4-4 to force overtime.
Head coach Ryan Huska praised his group for battling back.
“No quit,” said Huska. “I thought as the game went on we continued to get better and better, too. If you give us a little bit more time I think we probably end up winning in regulation. But, that’s the way it goes.”
Weegar had a similar assessment to his coach’s.
“I thought the last six, seven minutes they were hanging on by a thread,” said Weegar. “But other than that I thought it was just a bit of a rollercoaster of a game. We kind of need to lock it down a bit more.”
At five-on-five, the Flames out-shot the Islanders 31-26, out-chanced them 32-27 and had a high-danger chance edge of 16-13 (via Natural Stat Trick). They out-scored the visitors at five-on-five by a 4-3 margin. The difference in the game was some defensive miscues by the Flames and the Islanders winning the special teams battle.
In 2:54 of power play time, the Flames registered just a single shot (and zero high-danger chances). On two separate power plays, the Flames took penalties that cut their advantages short: once seven seconds in, the other time 47 seconds in.
“It’s slow right now,” said Huska of his team’s power play. “So they have to speed things up. Really, at the end of the day, you speed it up, move the puck quick, shoot the puck, and get rebounds. Right now we’re slow and methodical. So we have to make some improvements there for sure.”
Huska did note the team’s improvements at five-on-five of late, and noted that power play improvements often follow along afterwards.
The Flames had goals from four different goal-scorers: Martin Pospisil, Blake Coleman, Weegar and Yegor Sharangovich. Nazem Kadri and Connor Zary each registered two assists, while Pospisil’s six shots just edged out Jonathan Huberdeau’s five for the team lead.
“The confidence has really grown in this group,” said Coleman. “There’s a lot of guys that are stepping on the ice expecting to make differences in the game, and that wasn’t necessarily the case I don’t think three or four weeks ago.”
The shootout loss gives the Flames a 4-1-2 record in their last seven games dating back to Nov. 4. Of the 430 minutes of hockey they’ve played in that span, they’ve led for just 93 minutes of it. Put differently: they’ve captured 71.4% of their available points but led for just 21.6% of the games.
It would probably be better for everybody’s anxiety levels if the Flames were a team that could lead every game buzzer to buzzer, but this team probably isn’t built like that. This is a team that has to battle, and sometimes they’ll make mistakes and get behind. For a few weeks this season, they made mistakes they couldn’t overcome and found ways to leave games empty-handed.
Lately, they’ve made improvements and found ways to win. Or at least get points. This will need to a trend that continues if they hope to be playing post-season hockey this spring.
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