When the Calgary Flames dropped an ugly 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, it felt like rock bottom. However you compare Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Senators, it cements the funk the Flames are in, and erases most of the reassurance they might have felt from beating Ottawa 6-3 on Saturday.
Before we get into specifics and sensory details, let’s boil certain facts down. The Flames just dropped two of three against a young Senators team that’s increasingly looking like a spoiler threat lately. With this loss, the Flames dropped below .500 (10-11-2 for 22 points in 23 games).
As of this writing, the Flames have lost some serious ground to other North Division teams fighting for a playoff spot. The Montreal Canadiens, fired coach and all, are in much better shape (23 points despite playing in three fewer games [20 GP]).
Beyond digging that hole a little deeper, there were elements of Tuesday’s Flames loss to the Senators that were uniquely grim. Take, for instance, this bizarre and disastrous series of events before the game even began:
What in the world was happening with the Flames during warmup? 🤨 pic.twitter.com/RdNdvApUdM
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 2, 2021
Yikes. Let’s survey the wreckage from Calgary’s latest loss to the Senators, and a rough stretch in general for the wayward Flames.
Flames look dismal after another bad loss to Senators
While Matt Murray enjoyed an all-too-rare strong start for the Senators, you can’t just chalk up the Flames’ failure to a hot goalie making everything look worse.
After the Flames generated a 12-7 shots on goal advantage during the first period, the Senators turned the game on its head in the second, producing a 22-6 SOG edge against Calgary. When your team is playing this poorly, you tend to fail the eye test and when you dig deeper via analytics.
Absolutely schooled in the 2nd here. Flames have no neutral play either defensively or offensively. The Sens walk right in every shift. CGY can’t make a single pass beyond the redline at ES.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) March 2, 2021
It’s fair to ask “How much of this is about the Senators rising, and how much is this about the Flames failing?” But the bottom line is that, either way, Calgary must be suffering through a crisis of confidence. It’s not great when you choose from multiple games that could serve as serious low points when you’re only 23 games into a season.
Zooming out from these losses to the Senators, the Flames’ struggles extend further.
This road trip: 2-3-1
-2-1 OT loss
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) March 2, 2021
Honestly, it was a bit perplexing when the Flames made Geoff Ward full-time head coach after an unimpressive run as interim bench boss. That’s not to say that Ward is totally to blame for Calgary’s collapse; instead, it’s just hard to argue that he’s on his way to finding answers.
Milan Lucic, for one, doesn’t pin it all on coaching.
One more from Lucic:
“It seems like…we just want it easy on a night to night basis. We don’t want to work hard like we did when this coaching staff took over last year. There’s more than enough people in this organization that need to look in the mirror.” #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 2, 2021
As usual, when a team is floundering, it’s not on one single person. Or even one area of a team.
Ultimately, it’s up to the Flames to find answers, and they’re running out of time. Lately, it’s been ugly see that stumbling around with what clearly isn’t working.