Winning a single game doesn’t solve many problems (at least during an 82-game regular season), but it can at least ease some tensions.
After Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving called himself horse-blank and absorbed most of the blame for the team’s six-game losing streak, his team didn’t really play all that well against the Philadelphia Flyers during a Saturday afternoon — but they got the win, by way of a 3-2 shootout decision.
While Treliving painted himself as the main man to take the blame, one person made the difference most of all: goalie David Rittich. The Flyers generated a 38-27 shots on goal advantage, and the edge was starker in other regards. For instance: the Flyers more than doubled the Flames in scoring chances (29-13) and high-danger opportunities (13-6) at even-strength, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Again, getting the win only masks a shaky effort so much.
… Although maybe the Flames will take it for a little bit more than it’s worth, and it’s hard to totally blame them for that.
Beyond the more direct issue of losing out on points and thus falling behind your competition, going through a prolonged losing streak can create other negative ripple effects. You can get discouraged from doing what’s most likely to work, just because it hasn’t worked lately.
There are some worrisome signs in that regard. Long-term, you probably don’t want to lean on Zac Rinaldo for too many NHL shifts in 2019-20. There’s an argument for putting Milan Lucic on a power play unit as a screening presence, but that might be a better plan for your secondary group than your top five. And so on.
Beyond the subjective, we have bottom-line truths: the Flames’ six-game losing streak is over, and they’re now at 11-12-3.
By no means are they out of the woods yet, but maybe they’ll see a little light shining through now that they broke that slump.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.