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The Calgary Flames’ overtime woes are a result of poor decision making

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
9 months ago
The Calgary Flames are in the hunt for a playoff spot, even if it’s to the fan-base’s disliking. They sit with a record of 27-21-12 for a total of 66 points. In the wild card positions sit the Minnesota Wild and Seattle Kraken, both teams that have accumulated over 30 wins and have hit the 70-point mark in 2022-23.
The big kicker is the Flames have played 60 games, which is the same as Minnesota, one more than Seattle, and three more than the Nashville Predators, who are two points behind for the top wild-card contention spot.
Probably the most significant contributor to the Flames’ current standings position is the number of losses they have sustained past regulation time. Those 12 total overtime and shootout losses are tied with the San Jose Sharks for second in the NHL, and 9 of those 12 came in the overtime period, not the shootout.
Being tied for first in overtime and shootout losses, with nine of them coming in the overtime period, isn’t something you see every day, so after watching their 12th total overtime or shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, I decided to do some digging into what has caused some of these problems in extra time.
Their first three overtime losses to the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs came from power play goals. Taking penalties in extra time can’t happen, and I think that doesn’t need to be explained further. But the bad decisions go further than the penalties.
Let’s look at their loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 22: Huberdeau flung a pass across the spot to a clearly covered Backlund, and then Rasmus Andersson whiffed on the pass attempt when the puck bounced off Adrian Kempe’s stick initially, which sent the Kings the other way on a two-on-one and resulted in a goal.

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Other examples include their Jan. 10 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Two Flames, Nazem Kadri and Huberdeau take on two Blues defenders on the left side of the ice. Kadri fed the puck to Huberdeau, and he tried to make a move in the crowded area, which eventually sent Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas the other way for a two-on-one rush against Andersson. Thomas scored off the Kyrou feed, and the Flames lost the game.
There were plenty of options that Huberdeau could have taken in this situation. Kadri gave him a great feed, and instead of working around the offensive zone, he tried to make an unnecessary move through two players, and the team suffered because of it.

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The following two overtime losses came at the hands of Max Domi walking through all three Flames and Alexis Lafrenière being the beneficiary of a rebound off of Jacob Markstrom that Nikita Zadorov couldn’t reach, so it’s hard to say that there were any bad decisions there. However, the next and final two resulted from questionable on-ice decisions.
Their loss to the Senators happened because rookie Jakob Pelletier over-committed on a good fake from Alex DeBrincat in the Ottawa defensive zone. MacKenzie Weegar took an extra backward stride to the left instead of keeping entirely with Tim Stützle coming off the bench. He eventually caught up, and the shot from Stützle was excellent, even though it was contested by one of the Flames’ more reliable defencemen. Still, the extra push backward caught up to him against a speedy and shifty player.

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And finally, the game against the Golden Knights resulted in a loss because of a questionable line change by Backlund in the neutral zone that led to a three-on-two rush, an Eichel bar-down rip, and Alex Pietrangelo putting home the rebound.

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The Flames need to get things in gear to have a true shot at the post-season. They’re at a disadvantage with the number of games they’ve played relative to the other teams in the race, and with the trade deadline approaching, they need to figure out their goals fast. And if management decides to chase a postseason spot, the roster needs to be adjusted, and so do the preventable mistakes that have been happening after regulation. Whether it’s taking bad penalties or it’s making bad passes, or lousy line changes, losing in overtime can’t be an option over the last couple of months of the regular season.

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