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Flames Feel Effects Of Emotional 24 Hours In Detroit

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter suggests team may have been dealing with ‘elephant in the room’ after defenceman Rasmus Andersson was hit by a vehicle on Wednesday night.



In the discussion about whether the Calgary Flames are any good after another loss to a team below them in the standings, there was another potential element at play. 

Head coach Darryl Sutter called it “the elephant in the room.”

On top of a little case of “road legs,” the bench boss speculated that a scary incident the previous night might have had some impact on the 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings

Defenceman Rasmus Andersson was hit by a vehicle at a crosswalk in Detroit on Wednesday as he scootered to join some teammates for dinner. It kept the 26-year-old out of the lineup due to injury for the first time in his career. 

But Sutter wasn’t using it as an excuse even after altering each of the three defensive pairings. He put Chris Tanev with Andersson’s usual partner, Noah Hanifin; suited Nikita Zadorov up alongside MacKenzie Weegar, and had Dennis Gilbert and Michael Stone together. 

"Hey, we lost. Bottom line. Lost 2-1. You don't need one guy to step up — you need everyone,” Sutter told reporters in Detroit. “You hold a team to that few shots on the road and get through pretty well three penalty kills … You've got to score a big goal. Very simple. It's tough to win 1-0 on the road."

Yes, more goals would have been nice. But that’s just not something you can count on from this year’s Calgary Flames. Especially when a proven superstar like Jonathan Huberdeau finishes with exactly no shot attempts. 

Allowing two goals against wasn’t their downfall. Like Sutter said, you aren’t winning many road games 1-0. Regardless of where the opponent is in the NHL standings. 

“Need somebody to score a big goal,” Sutter said. “Said it lots this year, haven’t I?”

It’s a statement he’s made all too often on the season following the loss of a pair of 40-goal scorers. On paper, the team seemed more than capable of making those up with a more balanced attack. 

But at this point, you can crumple that paper up and toss it in the fire pit. This Calgary Flames team is clearly not as good as most thought it would be after bringing Huberdeau and Weegar in via the Matthew Tkachuk trade and using some of the cash earmarked for Johnny Gaudreau to sign centre Nazem Kadri in free agency. 

As for the elephant in the room, Andersson’s skills on the powerplay and locker-room presence were both clearly missed. 

That on top of any impact his narrow escape from tragedy might have had on his teammates the night before the game. 

"I thought last night, definitely reality/life-check for sure, how close it was,” pondered Mikael Backlund. “Throughout the day, I thought about it a little bit today, too. 

We miss Ras out there. We miss Ras in the room. He's a big part of our group on the ice and a really good player for us … He's a driver on the team, so for sure we missed him on and off the ice."

That might help explain the slow start, but the Flames had a 1-0 lead with less than 20 seconds to play in the second period. 

"Obviously, not good enough. Thirty games left and we need to win every game. Probably lost ground again tonight, I'm assuming. Makes Saturday's game much more important," said Tanev. 

"You're going to be tied in the third a lot. We were tied and up in the third last game and that's what every team that's in the playoff hunt, that's what it's going to be down the stretch and we've got to find a way to win those games." 

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