The Calgary Flames were defeated by the Nashville Predators by a final score of 2-0. The power play failed to capitalize on either of their five chances tonight, including a 5 on 3. Here are a few thoughts to take away from tonight’s tilt in Calgary.
Four crossbars can sway towards poor puck luck, but the Calgary Flames were shut down again. The Nashville Predators showed the Flames why they were a team that won the Western Conference last season. They were definitely the better team tonight, overall. The Flames threw fire and ice at them early and often, but failed to take advantage of those chances. Nashville scored two goals in the second period, and that is all that was needed. Here are a few thoughts on tonight’s game.
The Power Play is ice cold…ICE…COLD
Pile on this atrocious power play with pitchforks, my goodness it is not good. It seems that one player goes on long-term injured reserve, and the house of cards crumbles. This team has too much talent all around to be falling this short in the offensive zone. This team was a top tiered offensive team a season ago, and much of the same core is still intact. Sure, four goal posts definitely stings, but you need to create your own luck by generating better chances.
There is a lack of shots in tight scoring chances. There is a lack of urgency coming from their blue line. This team needs to figure it out, and figure it out fast to keep their heads above water in this fierce Western Conference.
Let The Elite Players Loose
Johnny Gaudreau had minimal space to make plays tonight. The defensive group could not spearhead the play from the back end. This team’s top players did not look like their top players when the puck was in their court. Good grief, this Calgary Flames team is much better than the way its been playing. While puck possession is an integral piece to success, you got to let these guys loose sometimes.
Nashville skillfully took away Johnny’s time and space, creating havoc for the pint-sized talent. But these defensemen look timid and appear to lack confidence from the back end. Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton were the best defensive pair in the NHL last season. The effort seems to not be there as of late, especially with the urgency to make plays.
Glen Gulutzan, its time to let your defensive players loose. Look at how Peter Laviolette unleashed his defensive group. PK Subban was spinning and shifting his way around the ice there tonight, as was Roman Josi. Mattias Ekholm was in the trenches hard and well tonight, causing havoc for the Flames as well. The Flames have a group of defensemen that can go toe-to-toe with any group in the entire league, let them play to their strengths.
Enough Line Juggling…This Isn’t The Circus
Okay, it’s understandable to shift players up and down the lineup to try to get “a spark”, but not every other shift. It seemed like in the middle of this game and into the third period, there was a new line combination out there each shift. Also, the defensive group appeared to be on their heels, in a more passive mode. With this defensive group that this team has, there should be more plays to be created from the back end. This team can skate with the best, as well as generate plays with the best.
Play this team to their strengths, allow the defense to jump up into the player more often. Combat against your opposition’s strengths, which is the elite play of that Nashville defense. Not trying to play the role of the coach, but in order to compete and keep up against an evenly matched opponent, you need to attack to play to your strengths and dig through these games.
Coming Up Empty In A Big Test Stings…Response Is Key
Tonight hurts, but the Flames face the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night on the road. David Rittich will likely get the nod in net, giving the fact that it will be the second game of a back-to-back. But this team needs to respond well to this unacceptable defeat to the most complete team in the West, Nashville.
The elite need to be on top of their game, and the coaching staff needs to challenge their stars. Plain and simple. Hopefully, tomorrow nights efforts in Vancouver will bring home two points for the good guys.
It’s now or never for the Calgary Flames, this team will either sink or swim. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, do you?