Two back-to-back games. Two shutout losses. The Calgary Flames followed a 2-0 loss on Wednesday night against the Penguins with a 5-0 blowout loss in Columbus on Thursday.
Two straight games without putting the puck in the opponent’s net. Six periods of futility. One hundred and 20 minutes of professional hockey without scoring a goal, and in the process, handing a rookie goaltender (Steve Mason) a franchise record for shutouts in a season. As a Flames fan, I can say that the 2nd shutout loss was much more difficult to watch. I’m not sure if its because it was the 2nd game in-a-row, or because of the fact that the Flames just couldn’t get anything going against the Blue Jackets.
At least the Flames were in the game against Pittsburgh. Despite the fact that they lost, they won battles, had great scoring chances and were generally playing well. They were simply stimied by Pittsburg’s hot goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The game in Columbus was another story altogether.
The Flames, like Austin Powers in The Spy Who Shagged Me, seemed to have lost their mojo when they stepped onto the ice in Columbus. The puck seemed to always be bouncing over their stick, or would turn up on edge right when they needed it to be flat. Their passes were far from stick-to-stick and they always seemed to turn left when they should have turned right. Maybe it was a bit of Karma brought upon his ‘beloved’ team by Columbus resident and self-proclaimed Flames Fan, Peter Stenzel, who was arrested on Thursday night after making threats against Columbus Goalie Steve Mason during the game.
Call it pressure. Call it tightness. Call it inconsistency. Call it whatever you want… but the fact remains that the Flames need to find a way to deal with success and not get themselves all wound-up when they win a bunch of games. The Flames always seem to follow a winning streak with a bad losing streak, where all the ground they made up on their divisional (and conference) opponents is lost. They need to find a way to way to keep their mojo alive and lose the streakiness that has plagued them for the last 3 seasons.
The Calgary Flames will have a chance to bounce back after going goal-less in their last 2 outings when they play on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada tonight in front of a national audience. They host the Minnesota Wild, who are 2 points out of the playoffs and will be playing with some desperation.
The Flames will be under close scrutiny tonight as they are now 1 point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks for the NW division lead. The Flames play as of late has been more cold than hot and they not only risk being bumped out of 3rd place in the West heading into the playoffs, but they are also in risk of sliding down to 5th place in the West and subsequently losing home ice advantage throughout much of the playoffs.