The Calgary Flames are currently on somewhat of an extended bye week with the All-Star weekend in the mix as well. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
The bye week is a blessing and a curse for different teams, but I personally hate it since it’s a big curse o the Calgary Flames. For some reason, since the NHL implemented the bye-week in the 2016-17 season, which is a mandatory five-day break, the Flames seem to do quite bad when returning back to action after the bye week.
Last season, they lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Winnipeg Jets. In hindsight, that doesn’t look awful, but let’s look at the context. They were coming off a seven-game win streak, a season-high. Including that game when they returned, they went on to lose seven in a row, with four in a row being in overtime or a shootout, which somewhat stings a little bit.
That may have somewhat set the tone for the rest of the season. Before their seven-game losing streak, they were second in the Pacific Division. After those seven losses, they were 11th in the Western Conference and two points out of a playoff spot. It may have left them somewhat defeated as well, and after giving up all their assets for what was supposed to be “their year”, they didn’t even make the playoffs and didn’t even have a draft pick until the fourth round.
The season before that, while they didn’t go on to lose seven straight, they lost 5-0 to the Arizona Coyotes, a team who was second last in the NHL. They had won four of five before that.
For some reason, it seems like when the Flames are on somewhat of a run, they go on their bye week and it messes up their momentum. The Flames are currently on a three-game win streak and a nine-game point streak. This could do the same thing.
However, there are some positives to this. They face the Washington Capitals tonight, who are on a seven-game losing streak. I guess that can also be seen as a disadvantage because they’re hungry for a win. But they’re also without their star player, Alex Ovechkin since he opted not to play at the NHL All-Star game, meaning he has to miss a game.
The Flames also have Mike Smith in net tonight. Some may see that as a disadvantage, but since Ovechkin isn’t playing, that probably played into factor tonight. He’s also 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts with a 0.903 sv%. His sv% isn’t incredible, but much better than what’s it’s been this season, so I’m not complaining.
The Calgary Flames could break that bye week curse if it really constitutes as a curse since it’s only happened twice, but if the Caps score a goal in the first five minutes tonight, I don’t think this game will be going all too well.
The good news is that many probability-models have the Flames with a 100% chance of making the playoffs and have high probabilities of them finishing first in the Pacific and the West. The Flames are in first in the Pacific and have six points on the second-place San Jose Sharks, who have played one extra game.
At least they’re in a much more comfortable spot than they were the last couple seasons, and that may also factor in tonight as well. No added pressure.