The Calgary Flames (13-11-6) enter Friday night's contest against the St. Louis Blues (14-15-1) on the heels of four straight losses. And yet, they've played some decent hockey in many of them, and got to overtime in the last three.
It sort of sums up the season so far for a Flames squad that had high expectations and hasn't lived up to them. It could be a slow burn or maybe they're just slowly burning. Friday's game will be a good test of their tenacity.
The Flames have played in some tight games this year, including 18 one-goal games. Head coach Darryl Sutter has suggested they're still waiting for their top players to show their best to get on the right side of more of those decisions.
"The difference is the difference-maker, right?" Sutter said this week. "You get to the extra or late opportunities, whether it's a powerplay or overtime or shootouts, that's where your best players have to be difference-makers, for sure."
On Wednesday, the Flames overcame an early 2-0 deficit went ahead 3-2 on goals from Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Trevor Lewis. But Vancouver Canucks forward Sheldon Dries tied the game early in the second period and the Flames couldn't find one more goal as goaltender Jacob Markstrom gave them every opportunity to cash in on their chances to earn a much-needed victory.
Andrei Kuzmenko scored the only goal in the shootout to win it for the Canucks.
The Blues may be a little tired after beating the Oilers 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday night.
Jordan Kyrou scored the shootout winner after Vladimir Tarasenko tied things up with a shorthanded goal with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Kyrou had a goal and three points during a monster night against the Calgary Flames' provincial rival.
The Blues are 3-1-1 in their last five.
The Flames are mixing it up a little looking for an offensive spark, putting Dillon Dube on the top line's left side and pairing Jonathan Huberdeau with Nazem Kadri on the second. Milan Lucic will also return after sitting out as a healthy scratch the last week.
Chris Tanev is out for a second straight game after taking a puck to the head on Monday in Montreal.
Calgary Flames projected lineup
Dillon Dube – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
Jonathan Huberdeau – Nazem Kadri – Andrew Mangiapane
Adam Ruzicka – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Milan Lucic – Radim Zohorna – Trevor Lewis
Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
Nikita Zadorov – MacKenzie Weegar
Connor Mackey – Michael Stone
St. Louis Blues projected lineup*
Saad – O'Reilly – Leivo
Schenn – Buchnevich – Tarasenko
Barbashev – Thomas – Kyrou
Toropchenko – Acciari – Pitlick
Leddy – Parayko
Krug – Faulk
Mikkola – Bortuzzo
*Based on Thursday's lineup in Edmonton. Jordan Binnington may start in back-to-back.