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Calgary Flames

Flames Loss Against Wings Shows They May Just Be Mediocre Team After All

The Calgary Flames dropped a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, showing yet again they play their worst against teams below them in the NHL standings. The Flames may be far from the team most thought they were.



With 30 games left, it's OK if you're starting to wonder whether the Calgary Flames are guilty of playing down to their opponents' level, or if they're just not as good as most expected they'd be this season. 

You're not alone. During a lull in the third period of another loss to a (perceived) lesser opponent, I felt the urge to post a Twitter poll to see whether there was anyone left with boundless optimism. That there were still some with a sense of belief that the Flames were a good team that occasionally plays poorly rather than a mediocre team that occasionally plays well. The response has been overwhelmingly the opposite of that. 

Considering the Flames have yet to complete a single comeback in the third period to win a game this season, are getting soundly outscored over the final 20 minutes, and seem to play worse against the teams lining the bottom of the standings, the poll results may reflect reality. 

Thursday night's 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings was insult to injury. Rasmus Andersson missed his first NHL contest for health reasons after getting hit by a vehicle while riding a scooter through a Motown crosswalk on Wednesday, and the team seemed to crumble. Every defensive pairing struggled. Every player seemed out of sync. The powerplay continued to scare exactly nobody. And the mirage of shot volume continued to come up short. This team just can't seem to convert shot quantity into quality. They outshot the Wings 28-7 at even strength. But high danger chances favoured the Red Wings, 6-5. 

Still, the Calgary Flames did score first. They had the lead over the Red Wings for less than 100 seconds late in the second period before the hosts tied things up on a powerplay. Blake Coleman scored first, tipping Noah Hanifin's point shot past Ville Husso at 18:07. But Dylan Larkin tied it on the powerplay at 19:46, and goaltender Dan Vladar's opportunity to set a new franchise record for consecutive games without a loss in regulation seemed inevitably quashed. 

It was his first regulation loss since Nov. 26. Not that he should shoulder any of the blame. 

The winning goal from Filip Zadina — who hasn't played since November and scored his first of the season — came on a two-on-one that had time for a give-and-go below the hashmarks. Vladar didn't have a hope. 

Maybe this team doesn't, either. Which could make the NHL trade deadline an interesting study in how the GM and ownership see this group. 

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