Game Day: Flames Look to Snap Skid Against Jets
The Calgary Flames (5-6-2) know what is on the line for Saturday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets (8-3-1).
Nothing short of a win will do. The time for moral victories is over. A seven-game losing streak needs to end.
“It’s a big game for us. We can’t keep this sliding,” Flames veteran Mikael Backlund told reporters after the morning skate. “It’s been way too many games. The feeling is we’re excited to come home and play against another Canadian team on Hockey Night in Canada. We know what’s at stake here. We know we need to win.”
The thing is, they’ve played well enough to win a number of times during this skid. We talked about reasons to be positive, and followed up with some areas that cause concern. But the reality is they’ve lost twice shorthanded in overtime and were the better team in more than half of these close contests.
“You just try to keep a positive mindset. That’s the approach,” said leading scorer Nazem Kadri. “We’re playing some good hockey but not getting the results we want. Time to change that.
“I think we’ve got great character in here. Everyone wants to get it done and that’s the plan.”
They’ll need to be disciplined, and make fewer turnovers and mistakes that ultimately cost them games.
That means finding ways to score clutch goals. Or at least hit the open nets. It also means better play from the guys filling in for defencemen Chris Tanev and Michael Stone. Calgary Wranglers call-ups Dennis Gilbert and Nick DeSimone have been giving it all they’ve got, but the reviews are lukewarm.
“They’ve been on the ice for too many goals against. We haven’t scored much, but that’s a fact,” Sutter said bluntly. “They’re good kids. They’ve come in and played with energy and all that. But in the end, you’ve got to win your shifts at some point.”
Sutter says the Jets are a “bigger, better team” than his Calgary Flames. At least in the one area that counts.
“Their record shows that,” he said.
Improving theirs is the goal — streak aside — for his team now.
“You gotta get points,” Sutter said. “You can be happy with your effort but our focus now has to be to get back to .500 and push for a playoff spot again. We got one point out of six and we thought we played better in the last game than the first game, but you’ve got to get results. You’ve got to have a difference maker.”
Jacob Markstrom gets the start in goal, going head-to-head with Connor Hellebuyck.
The Calgary Flames will be without Jonathan Huberdeau, who didn’t skate today. Tanev and Connor Mackey practised as the fourth pairing.
Calgary Flames projected lines
Adam Ruzicka – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
Dillon Dube – Nazem Kadri – Blake Coleman
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Trevor Lewis
Milan Lucic – Kevin Rooney – Brett Ritchie
Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
Nikita Zadorov – MacKenzie Weegar
Dennis Gilbert – Nick DeSimone
Winnipeg Jets projected lines