The Flames earned a 9-1 shellacking at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday – and that was after a two-game road trip on which they afforded their opposition a shared 85 shots on goal. David Rittich somehow made 44 saves at Madison Square Garden Sunday and the team somehow yelped out a win against the Rangers.
But that was luck.
The Flames knew it at the time and called a team meeting (a la the Blues) and things were said. Loudly.
But then Calgary took to the ice against the Montreal Canadiens and were defeated 3-2, but the Habs managed 40 shots on goal for Carey Price’s historic 289th career win.
By the time the Flames got to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, the writing was on the wall and then some. The good news on Thursday was that Calgary managed to actually outshoot the opposition. The bad news, apart from the disgraceful score, was that Pittsburgh still fired off 36 shots on goal.
Now, shot metrics are all well and good if you’re into that sort of thing. But the Penguins’ elegant manipulation of Calgary’s defensive feebleness was scientific, starting with the task of rattling goalie Mike Smith. He allowed six goals on 21 shots in a routine that may give more fuel to all that Bobrovsky talk of late.
“It starts with me, yeah, but everyone needs to be better,” said Smith. “We played a very good hockey team and from me out no one was very good and when that happens it’s just a recipe for disaster.”
The goals were sloppy, apart from maybe Patric Hornqvist’s deflection, and Smith knows it. But the defence has to be there too and they weren’t, which clarifies how and why Phil Kessel snared his own rebound at the beginning of the second period. That came after Bryan Rust snared his own rebound at the end of the first period, by the way.
James Neal had the lone goal for the Flames, fanning on a shot that somehow went in. Woopty doo.
Look, it’s easy to bag on the Flames after getting absolutely owned as of late. But this is still a .500 hockey club and that means now is the time to start tightening things up and ensuring this type of disordered play doesn’t become customary.
First, they’ll have to get by the Washington Capitals. They’re fresh off a loss to the Oilers, so they’ll be mad. And a mad Capitals team is an offensive one, which means whoever gets the start in goal for the Flames better be ready for the blitz.