Are the Flames killing their chances for playoffs?
Home woes are costly but road successes may keep the Flames in playoff hunt
By Nathan Woolridge, Staff Writer
Our beloved Calgary Flames have faced triumphs and failures since having their six game win streak snapped on Jan. 20. Since then, the team is looking like they are back to having consistency issues as they did at the start of the season.
Since their season-high win streak snapped, they managed to pick up points in four straight games losing in overtime sessions and lost two more regulation games.
While the team was seeming to be in the run for playoffs, it is looking more and more unlikely. The team’s home record is horrible, their away record was better.
As of Feb 25., the Flames’ home record is 14-14-4 while their away record is one of the league’s best with a 18-8-5 record.
Are the Flames falling apart? When Calgary beat one of the league’s top contenders, the Nashville Predators, 4-3 on Feb. 15, things started looking up after going 4-4 to start the month. But a string of losses followed.
A 6-3 loss to the Florida Panthers ensued despite defenceman Dougie Hamilton scoring a hattrick — the first Flames defenseman to do so since Al MacInnis in the early ‘90s.
Then, came a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, who currently sit near the top of the league behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, on Feb. 21 the Flames were blown out of the water with a tough 7-3 loss.
The Flames seem to be lacking consistency… again. They have played well against some of the league’s top contenders, but have lost to some of the league’s worst. It appears there is a trend of the team adjusting their game to who they’re playing against (with some exceptions).
If the Flames are playing a top contender they seem to win or come close by a goal or lose in extra minutes. But, if the team is playing a team low in the standings, they sit back and relax — hoping that the win will just fall into their hands.
If you look at the team’s wins and losses by date there’s typically a string of multiple wins followed by multiple losses. The Flames had a great beginning to 2018, with an incredible streak of six wins. But, this was immediately followed by a depressing losing steak of another six games.
Goaltender Mike Smith suffered from a reported groin injury while playing the New York Islanders Feb. 11 during a road trip. The Flames left with a win, but with Smith getting injured at the dying seconds of the game it appeared that our starting goaltender would need some time off.
Backup goaltender, David Rittich would get the start the next game losing to the Boston Bruins 5-2. He would redeem himself in a victory against the Nashville Predators. Sadly, that has been the only win since Smith’s injury until AHL call-up John Gilles got the nod on Feb 22. Facing division rivals Arizona Coyotes after bench-warming for Rittich since the injury to Smith, the Flames picked up a huge 5-1 and then another 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Rittich has lost four of the five games he has played since covering for Smith. Before this streak of losses, Rittich’s only loss this season was in a shootout in January. The backup goaltender was proving to be a valuable asset for backing up Smith.
Now all we can hope for is Rittich to get back into winning until Smith can resume his post in net.
The season can still be saved, Calgary.
For the most part, the team has been pretty healthy this season and have had their top lines producing fairly well and consistently. Johnny Gaudreau is still top 10 in points while the team overall have three 20-goal scorers on the team. Hamilton is near the top of the league for goals from the blue-line and Sean Monahan leads the team with 29 goals with 11 of them being game winning goals. With the departure of Jaromir Jagr, there are no more off-ice distractions bothering the locker room.
It will be nice for the rest of the team to contribute for the benefit of the whole as seven players on the roster are still yet to reach the 10 point mark.