‘We’re sick of losing’: The Calgary Flames need to rebound from a challenging start
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
The Calgary Flames did a lot of things well on Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, especially early in the game. They skated well. They managed the puck well. For the fifth time this season, they opened the scoring.
But the Flames did enough things poorly that for the fifth time in seven outings, they came up on the wrong side of the ledger.
Speaking with the assembled media in the Flames locker room following a 3-1 loss to the Rangers, forward Blake Coleman put a voice to some frustrations the Flames’ players have undoubtedly been feeling in regards to their results thus far.
“Losing’s got to keep you up at night,” said Coleman. “I know it’s easy to say, but I’m sick of losing. I think I can speak for the guys in our room that we’re sick of losing. It burns me up. You’ve got to be one of those guys that hates to lose more than win. And I think we’re just, as a group, we’ve got to have way more fire. Too flat in the second period, let the game get out of hand. Just same story so far, and we’ve got to figure this out real quick.”
It can be argued that, through seven games, the Flames have been finding ways to lose. They managed to hold off Winnipeg on opening night to pick up a regulation win, and they out-battled Buffalo for their other victory. But on the other occasions, they’ve allowed lapses at inopportune times to undo the good in their game.
“It’s not a full 60 minutes yet,” observed head coach Ryan Huska. “The starts have been what we want for the most part, it isn’t 60 minutes yet.”
Against the Rangers, the Flames held a 23-13 scoring chance advantage at five-on-five (via Natural Stat Trick). High-danger chances were 13-4 in their favour, as well. If not for Igor Shesterkin’s heroics at one end, and some uncharacteristic lapses on the penalty kill, the Flames could have earned a different fate.
But on Tuesday evening, those were the differences between two points and zero earned. Another good start evaporated – and another injury, this time to forward Adam Ruzicka, who left the game late in the first period with an upper-body injury.
“You can dominate five-on-five all you want in this league, but you’ve got to win special teams,” said Coleman. “We lost by two today and that was the difference in the game right there.”
The loss to the Rangers dropped the Flames to 2-4-1, with five points earned in the standings through seven games. Five previous times during the Salary Cap Era (2005-06 to present) have the Flames had this slow of a start to a season. Twice that resulted in them missing the post-season. But three times they managed to salvage their season and quality for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Heck, in 2005-06, the Flames managed to win the Northwest Division regular season crown.
Seven games have been crossed off the schedule. 75 remain. The season is not over by a long shot. But to salvage what remains, the Flames have to find a way to solve their issues and stitch the good pieces of their game into a coherent whole.
“I’m pissed off,” said Coleman. “And I think a lot of guys are pissed off and I hope everybody handles it the right way and uses that as motivation. Like I said, I can only focus on myself. We’ve got a lot of good players in this room and guys that, when we come together, we can be a very dangerous team. But we need to do that.”
The Flames are back in action on Thursday when they host the St. Louis Blues.
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