They are only a couple of games past the quarter-season mark, but the Calgary Flames are well aware that they are at a tipping point.
Following a 5-1 beating at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, and entering a series of games against the Edmonton Oilers starting Friday at home, the Flames know full well that their recent performances won’t be enough.
“It is a crucial moment when you look at the standings and what the next seven-game segment means for our season,” forward Milan Lucic said Thursday.
The Flames split a four-game series with the Canucks but they can’t fool themselves. They were outclassed in all four contests, including the two that won, and were guilty of horrible first periods.
Coach Geoff Ward rightly had a few words for his charges.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” Ward said of inconsistent play and his team’s poor starts. “It’s time to put this in bed, take the reins and take control of what we can. We can certainly control how we start. We can certainly control how we pay attention to detail, how hard we compete, how much we care. All of those things are certainly under our control. It’s time we started giving a (expletive) about it. “
Interestingly, the Flames had a chance to win all of those games. Even in their last outing, they lost 2-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the second period. The slow starts, which have seen them deliver the first goal in 10 of 16 games and have been outscored 17-10 in the first periods, have become the bone of contention.
“This is a great moment in our season for us,” forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “And I think we have to show each other that we are going to be ready from the first drop of the album.”
The greasers, meanwhile, are rolling. They have won seven of their last nine, the latest 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. Edmonton is three points ahead of the Flames, although with two more games played, and aware of the opportunity to create space between rivals in the North Division.
“These games are huge.” forward Kailer Yamamoto said. “Every game we play is huge, that’s the mentality. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”
Thanks to their success, the greasers are having a lot of fun. The last game saw star Connor McDavid hit the 500-point mark for his career in his 369th game, which tied him with Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, becoming the eighth-fastest player in history. league in reaching that mark.
“It’s a little milestone, a little thing on the way here, which is good,” McDavid said. “It’s always special to feel something of the reaction from my teammates, friends and family. I really appreciate the support.”
His teammates were more excited: “We talked enough about his performances on ice and the way he plays, but I think the thing that impresses us the most is the way he handles off the ice,” said Leon Draisaitl. “He’s such a humble boy and someone you can learn a lot from. We are very lucky, very lucky to have such a guy as our leader.”
That said, wins are of the utmost importance to the Oilers, and their most recent win makes them feel like they’re on the right track, especially after dropping the previous clash against the Jets.
“Going back there and kind of a rebound and having a good one and getting a win was obviously nice,” goalkeeper Mike Smith said. “As long as you can bounce back from a game like the one we had last time, we are excited. You cannot lose two games against the same team in the same week with qualifying as it is.”
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.