They talked about it after the first loss. The second sparked more meetings. And after the Calgary Flames lost their third straight game on home ice on Thursday night, they were tired of talking about it.
The Flames took some shots from their head coach.
They gave themselves plenty, too.
“Just ugly,” Flames winger Blake Coleman muttered after the 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
“it’s just unacceptable. It was a complete lack of energy. There was just nothing.”
Nothing. Everything was out of synch. From Nazem Kadri to Noah Hanifin, the Calgary Flames were completely flat.
If it was a lone poor performance or period, there might be less to worry about. But with a 5-4 record after a 5-1 start, you have to wonder if they’re as good a team as their early record indicated.
The answer is likely somewhere in the soft middle. You don’t lose two cornerstones like Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau and come away unscathed.
Even adding Jonathan Huberdeau, Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar guaranteed nothing. On paper, they should be better. But that paper still has last year’s stats on it, and a new city, team, coach and style isn’t always conducive to producing at the same pace. .
Especially when three key players are going through it at the same time.
“I think we had a good game plan,” Sutter said, teeing up a harsh criticism of his players.
“You have to have the courage to execute it.”
Another statement by the Calgary Flames coach suggested that it’s not just fans or media members expressing concern. And he’s not just talking about the record.
“It’s not winning or losing, I’m looking more at the process or performance of guys, right?” Sutter said. “That’s a concern.”
None of the guys who talked in the room afterward had any answers.
With a red-hot New Jersey Devils team coming to the Saddledome to close out an eight-game homestand, the Calgary Flames are going to have to find some in the next 36 hours or so.
“We talked about it, had a couple of meetings … and still came out flat. No energy,” Elias Lindholm said Thursday night.
“Honestly, even after last game, up 4-2 (on the Seattle Kraken) and lose, we’re a veteran group and that shouldn’t happen either. We talked about it and it was unacceptable last game. Tonight might have been worse.”
Coleman might have had the best quote, which could be construed as an indictment of the Flames players but that is probably reading a little too much between the lines.
“You’ve got to find a way to dig,” Coleman said. “You’ve got to find a way to bring your own joy and your own excitement.
“It was quiet.”
So where do they go from here? Another loss and they’re at .500 hockey. A recovery day on Friday may offer the reflection time they need because there were no answers coming about why the team looked so unprepared to play on Thursday.
“It’s a hard question. I wish I had an answer for that so we could fix it,” Backlund said before rapidly pivoting to the positive.
“I mean we’re going to fix it. We’re going to find a way; we’re going to turn this around; we’re going to win again. We’re a good team; we’re a veteran team. We know what it takes to win.”
Now they just have to do it.