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‘We’re in one of those ruts right now, but it will change’: Ryan Huska remains optimistic after Heritage Classic loss

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
7 months ago
2-6-1. 31st in the standings.
That’s currently where the Calgary Flames sit after a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the Heritage Classic game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The loss puts their skid at five games in a row, and things are getting dire only nine games into the season.
Despite the five-game losing streak, the big-name players still not producing at an acceptable level, some of the newer players not being able to fill in the scoring gaps immediately, and Jacob Markstrom having to bail out the Flames defence at almost every turn, head coach Ryan Huska is still certain that the Flames can work themselves out of this hole that they’ve dug.
First, a quote from him about how he believes the process is working currently and why it will work in the future:
“It starts like the first period did. If we’re not skating and we’re not going to try to work to make things happen, then you’re going to spend some time in your zone, and guys start to grip the sticks a little bit tight, and they force plays through the middle and you end up turning a lot of pucks over. Once you get pucks in behind a defence, whatever team it is in the league, any sort of pressure, you’re going to get your opportunities. And I think once it starts to go, it’s going to come a little bit more freely. We’ve had some games where we’ve had some great chances where goaltenders have made saves on us. So, we’re in one of those ruts right now, but it will change.”
Next, a quote about why he’s optimistic about the team moving forward despite this tough stretch.
“I’m always optimistic. One, our goaltender is playing some elite hockey right now. I think that’s always a real important thing. Two, I know the type of people we have in our room. You have to fight your way through these things so you have to come to the rink every day expecting it to be really hard and actually embracing that a little bit right now. I think that’s where we have to go and I think we have a lot of guys in our room that are willing and capable of doing that.”
It’s no secret that the Flames haven’t been as bad analytically as the box score results probably show. However, there comes a time when those underlying numbers need to be translated over to actual results, and considering some of the lapses that the team has had and the inconsistency they show almost every game (which Huska talked about as well in his post-game press conference), it’s hard to be confident that will come if you’re paying money to sit in the stands and watch this product.
There are plenty of skilled players on this Flames roster. Individually, there are names up and down the lineup that can make a huge impact on the game, but there doesn’t appear to be any chemistry at all between any line other than Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane, and Mikael Backlund. Markstrom had to come to the rescue plenty of times against the Oilers, just as he has in the other eight games so far in 2023-24, and the Flames still lost by three goals. There are still reasons to be optimistic about the Flames, even though it’s not easy to acknowledge that after watching them play on the big stage like they did, but at some point, those reasons for optimism need to start making themselves apparent and contribute to wins in the standings.

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