As the Calgary Flames wrapped up a four-game road trip on Saturday night with a 3-1 loss to the now Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche, fans of the team had to feel a bit conflicted.
The group is back to two wins below a .500 points percentage. A 6-4-2 November has helped close the distance, but Calgary simply can’t seem to get over that hump.
A surprising overtime win in Seattle? An offensively dry performance in Nashville.
Five unanswered goals to bury the Dallas Stars? That lethal ability to execute plays skips the last leg of the trip in Colorado.
Rookie Head Coach Ryan Huska has managed to change a number of problematic team tunes through the first two months of the 2023-2024 NHL Regular Season. Number one being a lack of resolve after going down by a goal.
There is good news and bad news on the subject of Calgary’s mental toughness.
Since adding Connor Zary for a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on November 1, the Flames have ended the first period trailing by one or more goals seven times in 12 games. They have a surprisingly high record and winning percentage when in those positions: 3-3-1 and .429.
Despite pulling out of several tailspins, the Flames still trail after one period the third most often across the NHL in November. Only Tampa (3-4-1) and Anaheim (1-7-0) are ahead of them in that category.
It’s the same song and dance when trailing after two periods. 3-4-2 in November gives them the third highest points percentage (.333) when down after 40, but who wants to be in that position so often?
That is a whopping 75% of their November outtings.
So, the good news: they’re showing resilience in the presence of adversity.
Bad news: they’re facing a lot of adversity.
On the other end of the Getting Leads issue, the Flames have only ended the first period with a lead once over 12 November dates. A 4-3 overtime win over Seattle on the 20th — and even in that game Calgary had to come back from a 3-2 deficit after two periods.
Like it or not, the recurring theme in Calgary so far this season has been Catching Up.
Whether it’s clawing back to .500 after a 2-6-1 October, surging back after the other team takes a lead, or at the micro level, rebuilding the confidence of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Jacob Markstrom.
Addressing overarching issues is a matter of taking on one small issue, habit or task at a time. But with a long list of potential UFAs to address, a top-heavy Pacific Division building distance on Wildcard-tier teams, and a nagging habit of self-sabotage surfacing — how much time do they have?