Flames Weekly offers a look at how the Calgary Flames performed in the previous week. Every Monday, Flames Weekly will provide a recap of the week and reveal which stories and players were most prominent. You can use the comments section to tell me how the team performed, or ask questions or share your thoughts about the Flames.
The measuring stick game is used to evaluate how a team compares against the best. Well, the Flames just had a measuring stick WEEK, with an Eastern swing that saw them face off against the conference’s three best clubs; the results speak for themselves.
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Outscored 16-6 by the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary headed home knowing they are not yet good enough to compete with the NHL’s top tier. They led for only 15 minutes in three games. Oh, and not to kick a team while they’re down, but the official deadline to resurrect the collapsed arena deal came and went. What now?
Flames are unable to keep up with Beasts of East because they lack firepower
After winning their first two games following a 19 day break, the Flames probably felt quite good heading into last week. While besting the lowly Seattle Kraken and Chicago Blackhawks put them back in the win column, it didn’t prepare them for the They were subject to an offensive attackThey arrived in the Sunshine State Tuesday to face the Panthers.
For a team that prides itself on playing a solid, structured game, the Flames got caught in the Panthers’ run-and-gun style that saw them give up 45 shots while they peppered Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky with 49. While Calgary had a solid start and enjoyed a 2-1 advantage midway through the first period, the Panthers took over the game shortly after and buried the visitors 6-2, the Flames’ most lopsided loss of the season.
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Two nights later, the Flames were in tough against the reigning Stanley Cup champs, and it didn’t get any easier. After holding the Lightning to an 0-0 draw after just one frame, Tampa Bay stepped up their game. The Bolts scored four unanswered goals before Dillon Dube finally broke Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout bid late in the third period with a meaningless goal to make it a convincing 4-1 loss. Matthew Tkachuk acknowledged that they were outclassed following the game.
The Flames were back in action the next night against another elite team, the Hurricanes. The boys in red came out on fire in the first period, outshooting the home team 21-10, but Calgary seemed to lose all momentum when the ‘Canes evened the score near the end of the frame. Team trainers deemed Jacob Markstrom “not 100%” for the contest, giving Dan Vladar his first-ever back-to-back starts.
Calgary, tied 1-1 going into the second period, suffered a major defensive collapse and let in three quick goals that effectively put Calgary out of reach. Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau scored goals that made it interesting, but Carolina prevailed and won 6-3. It was strike three for the Flames. Though they proved they could be competitive at times, they couldn’t convert on enough chances to stick around in these games.
After three consecutive losses, Sutter seems surprised at how positive he is
Darryl Sutter, the head coach of the Panthers, said that he believed his team lost Tuesday’s game to them. wasn’t up to the task against a superior squad: “This is a different level of team… we had some guys that didn’t meet the challenge in terms of one-on-one stuff.” Although Sutter stopped short of ripping into his team after their worst thumping of the season, he seemed almost upbeat after suffering a three-goal loss just two nights later in Tampa Bay.
“There’s nothing wrong with how we played,” he told reporters. “We just played a better team, to be quite honest.” After losing 6-3 to the Hurricanes, Sutter was then asked if he was disappointed to go down 4-1 after a great first period, and his The response was also positive: “I’m not disappointed in that at all. I think we fought back and made it 4-3.” It’s nice to see Calgary’s bench boss trying to focus on the positives, but despite their solid play this season, this three-game set against the ‘Beasts of the East’ proved the team needs to load up on firepower at the trade deadline.
Flames Arena Deal Isn’t Just Dead…It’s DEAD
While it’s been a couple of weeks since Calgary’s mayor Jyoti Gondek tweeted out the Bombshell news that the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) will ‘pull the plug’ on the arena deal, there was still an outside chance the two sides would extend the deadline and come up with a miracle. That didn’t happen.
An event center deal that had taken years to negotiate was stalled by last-minute cost escalations, complications and delays due to the pandemic. What’s more frustrating, it’s estimated that the two parties spent around $20-$25 million on the project without breaking ground. Unless they can somehow revive this situation, it will have been a huge waste of everyone’s time and money.
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What’s next? The Flames have 11 years left on their lease at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and they say they’ll stay put in the old barn for as long as possible. But with the roof repairs and overall maintenance on the Dome expected to cost nearly $50 million in the coming years, playing in the NHL’s oldest building doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Are the two sides going to come to an agreement? You can guess my guess.
The Week’s Winners and Losers
I’ve called it the Flames’ “weirdest week of the season” for many weeks in a row now. The past seven days were a far cry from the normal. The boys in red played games times last week, and here’s who made the biggest impressions, positive or negative.
- Flames fans have been hearing a lot about their hotshot goalie prospect, Dustin Wolf. The Stockton Heat’s number one netminder has been lighting it up in the American Hockey League (AHL), with a 15-1-2 record to start his first full professional season. After posting a December 7-0-0 record and 1.40 goals-against-average (GAA), the 20-year-old was awarded goaltender of month. The question is, why wasn’t Wolf the goaltender of the month for October and November as well?
- Adam Ruzicka is another highly regarded prospect. Although he has been suited up for the Flames five times, he has struggled to stick with the team. Slovak, 22, has been moving around a lot since being called up on Nov. 25, and he scored his first NHL goal on December 8. Ruzicka, who had completed COVID protocol Dec 27, was sent to the taxi team on Jan. 4. He then returned to the active roster on January 7, and then returned to the taxi crew on Jan. 8. I’d like to see the big center get an extended look with the Flames or get sent back down to Stockton in the AHL. Keeping him in roster purgatory won’t do him any good.
- During Thursday’s game, the Lighting honored Blake Coleman for his contributions to the Bolts’ back-to-back Stanley Cup wins. The Flames forward received the second championship ring prior to the game. He said that his return to Tampa Bay had brought him back a tremendous amount of joy. Flood of great memories. “It’s special, obviously. I was thinking while I was walking down the tunnel, I was kind of flashing back to the last time I was on that ice, and I think it was 3:00 AM with a few bottles of champagne in me and my whole family out on the ice.” Congrats Blake.
- Gaudreau moved to seventh place in franchise scoring all-time last week. This week, it was Tkachuk’s turn to move up the list after scoring two points in Carolina. While he’s not near the top (yet), the 24-year-old winger now ranks 22nd. He leapfrogged Calgary assistant general manager Craig Conroy along the way, and if you think the young buck didn’t rub it in, then you don’t know “Chucky” very well.
Flames Week ahead
Last week was the Flames’ busiest in ages, but because of COVID capacity restrictions in Canadian arenas, their upcoming schedule will be light. They had been scheduled to host New York Islanders on Tuesday. However, that was postponed. The NHL has also moved Saturday’s tilt against the Vegas Golden Knights to a later date. That means the only contest still on the docket is Thursday night’s home game against the Ottawa Senators. I guess the league decided it would be too difficult to reschedule the Sens’ entire western road swing that also includes games against Seattle, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.
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Greg Tysowski was a broadcast journalist before he decided to be a stay-at home dad. He did this for more than ten decades. He’s now a Published author, Blogger for parentingA sports journalist and an aspiring writer covering the Calgary Flames. Greg also contributes to the weekly roundtable discussion. “Flames Faceoff”You can now stream the podcast on YouTube and other podcast platforms.