‘Xs and Os don’t mean a thing if there’s no compete’: The Calgary Flames out-battled by the lowly Sharks

Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
2 months ago
The Calgary Flames are a perplexing team sometimes.
Case in point: their last five games.
They played a four game road trip coming out of the All-Star break, facing four teams sitting above them in the standings. They played an excellent 60 minutes in a win over the Boston Bruins, battled to a pair of closer victories against New Jersey and the New York Islanders, and seemed to run out of gas slightly against the New York Rangers.
Four road games against four fairly tough opponents, four very respectable outings – including their best game of the season against the Bruins – and six of a possible eight points.
And then they return home to begin a stretch of seven of eight games on Saddledome ice, and get fairly thoroughly out-played by the 31st-overall San Jose Sharks.
“Disappointing,” said MacKenzie Weegar following the game. “I thought we thought it was going to be an easy game, and then we just got out-worked and out-competed and, you know, that’s not normally like us.”
Making his fifth NHL start of the season, and first big league appearance in net in two months, rookie goalie Dustin Wolf wasn’t at his best. Unfortunately, neither were the players in front of him.
  • The first Sharks goal (by Markus Granlund) was off a Noah Hanifin giveaway – Wolf mentioned he toppled over in his crease after he caught an edge.
  • The second Sharks goal (by Justin Bailey) was off a clearing attempt by Weegar that hit Nazem Kadri in the back and created an odd-man chance for the Sharks.
  • The third Sharks goal (an own-goal by Chris Tanev) happened when the defender tried to sweep the puck to Wolf to freeze it, and Wolf couldn’t get over to his post to freeze the puck.
  • The fourth Sharks goal was a deflection from Filip Zadina that fluttered over top of Wolf and into the net.
Needless to say, there were turnovers, mistakes and odd bounces all around.
“I wasn’t super pleased with the goals in the third,” said Wolf. “Those are the times where you need a couple saves to give the group some life.”
Speaking to the media following the loss, head coach Ryan Huska seemed flummoxed about the team’s lack of engagement against the Sharks.
“I think the one area that I’m most disappointed in was the lack of competitiveness from our team tonight,” said Huska. “And you can’t say that very often about our group, so that one stings a little bit. Xs and Os don’t mean a thing if there’s no compete, so that’s the hard part for tonight.”
The Flames remain very much in the mix for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference. If they end up missing the post-season by a handful of points – as they did in 2022-23 – the obvious culprit will be their performances against the Chicagos, Columbuses and San Joses of the league.
The Flames are a perplexing team sometimes. They’re capable of going toe-to-toe and battling with the league’s very best teams. They’re also capable of looking fairly listless against the league’s bottom-feeders.
The Flames are back in action on Saturday afternoon for a matinee against the Detroit Red Wings.
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