The Calgary Flames dropped there third straight decision Thursday night, in a disappointing loss to the Nashville Predators. A Nashville Team that came into the game three points back of the quickly falling Flames, is now a single point back of them with two games in advantage to boot. Calgary is quickly falling behind, and unless they start playing with some urgency and heart, they’re going to be out of the picture quickly. The Western Conference playoff race is extremely tight right now, with Winnipeg now sitting just one point back with a win last night, beating the Blues 4-2. Even the Minnesota Wild are gaining ground, only four points back of the Flames after beating the Canucks 4-2. Calgary needs to figure out something fast, as they are eventually going to find themselves on the outside looking in. Nashville and Winnipeg are both at 59 points, Chicago is at 58 and Minnesota is at 56. At one point the Flames were looking quite comfortable ahead of the teams I mentioned, but with three straight losses, everybody is starting to catch up.
Their inability to put together a full sixty minutes is quite odd to me, especially considering last season they did nothing but bulldoze their opponents (up until the playoffs at least), surging to the top of the Western Conference. As seems to have become the trend with the Flames, it seems they make it one year and can’t do it the next. Now look, I’m not saying this team has the greatest roster in the league, and I sure didn’t expect them to win the conference this year, but I did expect them to be leading the Pacific Division. So, seeing where they are now, is not only odd it’s unacceptable for this franchise. The Flames have some very talented players and on paper, they have a pretty solid roster. Yet here they are, barely putting in effort in games and disappointing their fans on a nightly basis. Every time things start looking up for this team, they plummet back down to earth I spectacular fashion.
So, what’s the deal? Well it’s simple really. This team lacks heart throughout the lineup and unfortunately, lacks any sort of mental fortitude whatsoever. They can’t for the life of them put together a full sixty minutes, and when they start losing, they just roll over and take it up the rear. There are a few players I quite like, and I hope stick around for many years to come, as they are the only guys that seem to care whatsoever night in and night out. Tkachuk, Anderson, Dube, Ryan, Mangiapanne, Hamonic, Lindholm, Giordano, Rittich and Talbot, are about the only players on this team that seem to have any sort of fight in them. They seem to be the only players that come out (at least mostly) and give it their best, or at the very least TRY. I understand players have down years, but the seasons that Monahan, Gaudreau and Backlund are having, are NOT ACCEPTABLE. This isn’t just a down year, this is a full-blown regression on their part. Nearly every game they come out lackluster, and almost seem bored and would rather be doing anything but playing hockey for this team. No player is perfect, but if theirs at the very least some effort and heart involved, those three wouldn’t be having the horrendous season, they are having.
I know some folks will blame the coaching and perhaps that’s part of it, but how many coaches have we gone through with this core group of players? Let’s see, we had Bob Hartley, Glen Gulutzan, Bill Peters and now Interim coach Geoff Ward. Where does it end exactly? When do the payers start taking responsibility for their extremely poor play? I’m sorry, but at this stage I the game you can’t keep blaming the coach and coaching staff. There comes a point where you must look at the group of players that have been assembled, and the blame has top be placed on them. Look, I get that the Flames could go on some magical streak and end up winning the Pacific. I would be STOKED on that and would happily be wrong in what I’ve said here today, but I just don’t think the Flames will be this years St. Louis Blues. Even if this team makes the playoffs, I can’t see them making it out of the first round. I can’t see them making some miracle run to the Stanley Cup. They lack heart, soul, anger, effort and it’s become quite apparent that this team may need to change some core pieces going forward.
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