For all of their struggles and disappointing results, the Calgary Flames know their situation is not dire.
After all, heading into Sunday’s road clash with the San Jose Sharks, the Flames are only a couple of points out of a playoff spot with 51 games remaining on the schedule.
Not that the Flames have given any reason to believe history will repeat itself, but when the Flames were halfway through the 2021-22 season, they were sitting in the second wildcard spot before starting a 10-game winning streak and rocketing to the top of the Pacific Division standings.
With that in mind, even while on a five-game losing skid (0-2-3), the Flames have plenty of reason to believe they can turn around their season.
“It’s not getting away from us,” insisted forward Mikael Backlund. “We know we can still do a really good thing here, but we’ve got to pull together here and be a lot better.”
Sunday’s clash kicks off a set of road games in San Jose before the Flames finish their pre-Christmas schedule in California against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
Certainly the opportunity is there to string together wins, provided the Flames can start finishing their chances. The Flames were the better team for most of Friday’s 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. They couldn’t find the go-ahead goal, however, despite having the upper hand in a one-sided second period in which they outshot the visitors by a 15-3 margin.
“There’s pucks laying around there, but we’re not putting in that extra effort to beat their man one-on-one and stuff like that,” forward Elias Lindholm said. “I think we all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and be better.”
The Sharks return home after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, a game in which they erased an early 1-0 deficit and held a lead late in the second period before falling in the shootout.
“I thought we played OK,” said forward Timo Meier, who collected one goal and one assist. “Wasn’t our best game, but obviously frustrating when you have to go to penalty shots and lose it like that.”
Even so, San Jose has a 2-0-2 record in its past four games, a positive run for a rebuilding team expected to miss the playoffs and already eight points out of a playoff position.
The big story on Saturday was the play of goaltender James Reimer, who stopped 39 shots through overtime, including all seven fired his way in the extra period, while his team failed to manage even one on the Kings’ net. However, he likely will give the net to Kaapo Kahkonen against the Flames.
What the Sharks need is more of the same from Meier, who scored his team-leading 15th goal, while firing seven shots on net, on top of having a couple of attempts blocked and another miss the net.
“We all know he’s an elite player, and we need him to not only create offense but be a three-zone player, and he’s taken some big strides,” coach David Quinn said.
Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson also continues to hold a hot hand, riding a six-game point streak in which he’s collected one goal and seven points.
–Field Level Media