The Calgary Flames lacked in structure and details against Colorado

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Let’s start with a basic principle, friends: the Colorado Avalanche are a very good hockey team. If you look at the Avalanche and the Calgary Flames, on paper, you’d probably favour the Avalanche to win. (That’s what the odds-makers did prior to Tuesday’s game, with the away team the betting favourite.)
But the way the Flames lost on Tuesday evening, by a 6-2 score to the Avalanche, is what had head coach Ryan Huska and others furrowing their brows as to how a team that’s been so effective in their structure and details has lost those elements of their game lately.
Yeah, the Flames are a bit depleted right now. The Flames are without fourth line heartbeat A.J. Greer and top nine winger Connor Zary, both current skating but on the injury reserve. In the afternoon, the Flames announced that Jacob Markstrom was out day-to-day and called up Dustin Wolf from the Wranglers. Just prior to warm-up, they announced that Andrew Mangiapane was out due to illness. And as the lineup sheets were finalized, Andrei Kuzmenko’s absence with an upper body injury was announced.
Combine that with all the trades that general manager Craig Conroy executed over the past several weeks and months, this is a much different team than the Flames started the season with. Of the 20 players that dressed for the Flames against Colorado, 11 weren’t on the opening night roster – including five of their seven defencemen. Heck, three of their blueliners were playing their first-ever home games for the club: Joel Hanley, Daniil Miromanov and Nikita Okhotiuk.
What resulted was a game where the Flames briefly led 2-1, but gave up five unanswered goals to Colorado in the second period. While a few of the goals were on some superb shots by the Avalanche’s big guns, a lot of the strong looks they generated were off some defensive lapses by the Flames.
Flames forward Nazem Kadri theorized that the challenges the club’s facing recently are a product of having so much turnover.
“We got a lot of new bodies, new faces, learning new systems,” said Kadri. “So there’s going to be some cross-over where chemistry’s not great and there are some brain lapses. That can be a natural thing, obviously it’s frustrating, you’ve got to stay patient, but that’s just what we’ve been given.”
Asked about how the team can build their details into their game with so many new faces, Huska paused before answering.
“The new faces, I don’t think are the issue, per se,” said Huska. “There’s guys on the ice that have been here for a number of years that still made mistakes over the last few games that they normally don’t make. For us, the teaching is something that we have to do a little bit more of as we move forward and we’ll continue to do that, but it’s making sure that what’s made this team a good team is they’ve got some edge or pushback, and the last two games that’s been missing and that’s something we’ve got to get back.”
Later, Huska discussed the team’s play slipping and was asked about why that was the case.
“You know, when you get to a stretch of games where you get it handed to you, like we did in Carolina and the end of that Florida game, and things don’t really go your way and the other team carries the play, you start to ‘oh boy, I don’t want to make a mistake’ and that’s not the mindset that we need to play with,” said Huska. “So it’s about making sure that we stay on the attack and it’s about making sure that we stay with what makes us a good team, and that’s playing as a group of five on the ice.”
Finally, Huska had a succinct explanation for Dan Vladar getting relieved for the third period after allowing six goals on 35 shots. He indicated that the goaltender wasn’t to blame.
“Well, we gave up six, right? We didn’t really do much to help him out here tonight, so we gave him a bit of a break.”
The Flames are back in action on Thursday night when they host the Vegas Golden Knights.
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