Calgary Flames: How they can finish road trip on a high note

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 16: Mark Giordano
CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 16: Mark Giordano /

The Calgary Flames will finish their six-game road trip tonight against the Nashville Predators. Here’s how they can finish it on a high note.

The Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators will be playing their third and final matchup of the season tonight in Tennessee. They’ve so far split the season series, with the Predators winning the most recent one in December by a score of 2-0 and the Flames winning one in October in a shootout.

The Predators have been one of the top teams in the NHL this season and they’re fourth in the standings right now. They’ve been one of the top teams since the end of December, where the Flames have also been up there, along with the Boston Bruins.

The Flames will also be closing out their six game road trip tonight. They’re 3-2-0 so far and will hope to end it on a high note. Here’s how they can do that.

Related Story: Flames Daily - Game day, closing out road trip

Play a full 60

I feel like this should be a given. So why do we keep having to mention it? The Calgary Flames, for some reason, have not been playing a full 60 in most of their recent games. Either they’ll come out strong, then get overconfident and not show up in the third, or they won’t show up until the second period.

It cost them their three losses in the last three weeks and almost cost them a fourth. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they got overconfident, and the Lightning scored five unanswered goals, four in the third period alone, to win 7-4. Against the New York Rangers, they were up 3-2 heading into the third (even though they barely showed up in the first period) and lost 4-3. On Tuesday night vs. the Boston Bruins, they had a great first period, were tied 2-2 heading into the third, and the Bruins won 5-2 because of the Flames inability to get anything going in the third period.

BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 13 2018: (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 13 2018: (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

This needs to end, especially in the third period. If they’re a true playoff team, they need to play a full game every game. If hockey games were 40 minutes long, they may be on top. But they’re not.

The Preds have also been scoring a good amount of goals in the third period lately and have been coming back when getting scored on first. Tonight will be a good test for the Flames to not get overconfident.

Special teams

Normally, we’ve just been focusing on the powerplay. But tonight is about the special teams in general. In the first game between the two, the Preds went 2/3 on the PP and the Flames were 0/4. In the second meeting, the Preds were 0/3 while the Flames were 0/5.

While the Flames penalty-killing as of late hasn’t been something of worry, their past couple of games, they’ve allowed powerplay goals against. And the Preds were able to score two powerplay goals in that first meeting.

Related Story: Flames Daily - Special teams continue to be a problem

On the bright side, the Preds powerplay as of late hasn’t been that great either. Since the start of January, they’re fourth last in the PP with 15.6%. But the Flames will need to generate something tonight on the powerplay.

They’ve tried different combinations which, on paper, should be working. But it isn’t. They’ve been keeping the puck around the perimeter too much and aren’t quite getting the scoring chances they need. They also haven’t been able to shoot lots of their pucks from in front of the net and are keeping it, again, around that perimeter. They need to start shooting more pucks from closer to the net and get Matthew Tkachuk in front as well try and tip or deflect those pucks in.

Don’t get sloppy in the neutral zone

While the Calgary Flames are quite good a puck possession this season, they’ve been somewhat sloppy the last few games. And that has to do with their inability to play a full 60. In the third period, they’ve been getting sloppy in the neutral zone and letting their opponents get those giveaways that lead to scoring chances.

The Preds have also been scoring a good amount of goals lately, but it’s not all coming from one line. They’ve been getting lots of secondary scoring and lots of contribution from their third line. Which means that all of the Flames lines need to be on their a-game tonight.

Next: Flames feel the wrath of the Bruins, lose 5-2

Can the Flames make it 4-2-0 on this road trip and remain in that third Pacific Division spot and maybe even move up to second place?