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Hot Talk: Sutter’s coaching in spotlight following feeble Flames effort

Should an NHL team that hasn’t won even three straight games for months be a favourite over anyone right now?



Craig Ellingson: Hey Steve, ever seen the movie Any Given Friday? It’s about a fictional hockey team that stars Robert De Niro as the goalie, Claudia Schaffer as the coach and Idris Elba as the owner. Actually, I think Jessica Alba played the coach.

Steve Macfarlane: Haven’t seen it, but I’ll watch anything with Claudia or Jessica!

CE: I think the movie steals the plot from Any Given Sunday, the football movie.

SM: Well, some people might think that’s what happened to the Flames on Friday.

CE: Yeah, the classic 'underdog wins' story. That’s why I brought it up. I can’t help but think the Any Given Friday theory was at work last night.

SM: But should a team that hasn’t won even three straight games for months be a favourite over anyone right now? Not to mention zero third-period comebacks. I’d argue the Anaheim Ducks even have the most talented game-breaker of the two teams with Trevor Zegras — not that they needed him Friday.

CE: Not one third-period comeback by the Flames this season? Really?

SM: Zero. Every other team has at least two.


Consecutive wins elusive

CE: Hmm. That’s quite the damning stat. To whom or what can I point a finger for that failure? Coach? GM? Players? Combination of two or all?

SM: Good question. Plenty of blame to go around. A number of players are clearly performing below expectations — Jonathan Huberdeau on pace for the biggest offensive dropoff in NHL history. He has to own some of that. 

But clearly, this has not been his favourite coach and Sutter has both cut his minutes and played him on his off-wing on the right side for half a season. Mangiapane may not hit 20 goals this year after scoring 35 last year. 

Every area where you would have said ‘here's how we make up the 80 goals from Gaudreau and Tkachuk’ has come nowhere close. 

I think the collection of players is fine on paper. I'd let the GM off the hook there. But Sutter putting that fourth line out all the time, against top lines or late in games. That's a head-scratcher.


Make Sens favourite on Sunday

CE: They've got another ‘weaker’ opponent coming in tomorrow, the Ottawa Senators. And of course, I’d expect the loss to the Ducks to stick in the Flames' craw. 

No one wants to lose two in a row at home, especially when you should be fighting for every point. Actually, I spoke too soon. The Sens pretty much have the same record as the Flames. Not a ‘gimme’ based on points totals. Of course, games are played on the ice, not on paper.

SM: Yeah, on top of the fact Ottawa has four more wins than the Flames, the Sens have been a real pain in the ass for them. Remember the all-Canadian COVID division? I’m not sure the Flames even won one of those.

CE: Ah, the all-Canadian division. Seems like a distant memory now, like a dream. Did it really happen? Sens are a trap team much like they were two years ago in that scenario but even more so now. 

They pretty much single-handedly killed the playoff hopes of the Detroit Red Wings just before the trade deadline.

SM: I think the Sens are one of those teams too many take lightly. They have some really great young players. Some grit. Some skill. And they got better at the trade deadline with Chychrun. The Flames are the underdogs for this one. But I guess on Any Given Sunday …

CE: Lights, camera … action!