Flames Failure Against Flyers Another Red Flag For Season
The Calgary Flames came up short against a team out of the playoff picture once again, this time dropping a 4-3 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Saddeldome on Monday afternoon.
The Calgary Flames rollercoaster continues.
The big question is where it ends. What’s the final destination for a team that hasn’t been able to string together a meaty winning streak all season?
Playoffs? Sure, there is still time. And head coach Darryl Sutter offered an enthusiastic “Absolutely” when asked this week if the Flames could have success if they get there.
But the ride sure is looking bumpy. And it’s going to have to speed up for the Flames to avoid getting left behind in the Western Conference wildcard race.
They took another sharp turn with Monday’s matinee 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Just when it looked like the Calgary Flames might mount their first successful third-period comeback of the season, they flopped.
The winning goal was the kind that illustrated just how bad the Flames can be. Blown coverage left Wade Allison all alone on a play that should have been killed multiple times. Nazem Kadri lost a puck battle while Jonathan Huberdeau pinned his man against the boards, then Kadri blew the zone thinking his team was getting possession.
Even then it was a simple three-on-three.
But rookie Jakob Pelletier was a step behind James van Riemsdyk and the Flyers trade bait found Allison all alone in the paint with Jacob Markstrom. And for some strange reason, defenceman Nikita Zadorov played it like a two-on-one rush and took himself out of the play with a slide intended to break up the pass.
It accomplished only one of those two things.
“It’s a coverage goal, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said post-game. “Guys are at the end of the shift; gotta cover your man at the end of a shift.
“Defencemen have done that since they were little boys, they’ve got to do it against top players.”
Sutter tinkered with all three defensive pairings, and noted after the game that Michael Stone was out with an injury. He also mentioned the juice the team got from another Dennis Gilbert fight.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last.
The Flyers led 1-0 after the first period with Travis Konecny scoring his 27th of the season off the rush. They led 3-1 in the third with Nicolas Deslauriers and Tony DeAngelo’s goals sandwiching Mikael Backlund’s 12th tally of the season.
Few had hope of a comeback in the third period, considering the Flames have yet to successfully do that all season long. But Tyler Toffoli and Andrew Mangiapane both struck early for the Flames, and it looked like they had a chance.
In typical Flames fashion — at least this season — that hope faded quickly. Just two-and-a-half minutes later, the Allison goal snuffed it out. Blake Coleman's post on a breakaway sealed it with less than four minutes on the clock.
Another opportunity lost to a team that is unlikely to make the playoffs.
It’s looking more and more like that could be the Flames’ fate, too.
On the season, the Flames have an 11-11-6 record against current non-playoffs teams.
They’ve played 11 of those since the calendar flipped to 2023, going 3-5-3. At home, they’re 1-3-0 in that span, with the Flyers the third straight bottom feeder to beat them at the Saddledome in regulation time.
“It’s just really tough when you come back and still find a way to lose,” said Backlund. “It’s frustrating. Tough.”
We’re hearing those words a lot.