Friday night's loss represented a new low for this team; getting shutout at home against a team they had beaten only a few weeks back in an absolute snoozer of a game where the lone goal scored by the Predators after a series of defensive blunders decided the Flames' fate. Even more discouraging was the fact that the recent dominance in terms of shots, chances, and possession was nowhere to be seen and a powerplay unit that showed signs of improvement in Wednesday's loss to the Pens faltered once again.
This loss to the Ducks brought us to a whole 'nother level of suck. Goals were scored. Goals were allowed. It wasn't pretty. Down 3-1 after twenty, the Flames took advantage of some sloppy defending by Anaheim and took a 4-3 lead into the final frame. It was all down hill from there, however, as the Ducks would score twice to regain the lead, despite being outshot 19-7. The end result? A 5-4 loss and the Flames' first four-game skid of the season.
This loss is probably the hardest to stomach of the bunch. They had this game under control and let it slip away. The powerplay let them down again and a combination of poorly executed defence and below average goaltending fueled their demise in the third period. The pairing of Sarich and Pardy was a combined -4, and McElhinney, while clutch at times, wasn't able to shut the door when it mattered most.
It appears we will be forced to choose between offence and defence until this team learns how to satisfy the need for both within the confines of Brent Sutter's system and a sixty-minute game. If you're going to score four goals, you have to allow three or less. Sure, scoring requires a certain element of risk-taking, and I'm glad to see that that has been reintroduced into the Flames' game plan, but it all means nothing without defensive responsibility and capable goaltending to back it up.
After a disastrous December, a five game winning streak that extended into the New Year gave us hope. Now, I can't help but wonder if the wheels have come off for good.
These are the hard times, my friends.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Or something like that.
Go Flames Go.