Following a 1-3 road trip, the Flames returned home searching for consistency. Heading out on the road last week the Flames had won 3 of 4 four games and looked like they were finally moving towards correcting the slow start to the season. With a solid performance on the road trip the Flames could have made significant headway in the Western Conference’s standings. However, going 1-3 and giving up winnable games against the offensively challenged Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning leaves the team sitting 13th in the Conference. Luckily for the Flames, they team is only 5 points out of a playoff spot as teams like the San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets all seem to be struggling simultaneously. If the Flames’ defensive play, goaltending, and secondary scoring could truly turn a corner the team could reel in a Wild Card playoff spot.
Indeed, the Flames’ inconsistency has been a common talking point for those within and outside the organization. As some of my past articles have pointed out, the Flames definitely have the talent on their roster to alter the course of this season. To emphasize this point look to how the Flames played in impressive wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, and on the recent road trip against the Washington Capitals. Winning those games was a result of a conscience defensive effort by the whole team, solid goaltending, and capitalizing on timely offensive chances.
Other than winning 3 out 4 games prior to the road trip the team has not been able to string together a long stretch of games where they apply the known formula for winning hockey games. The worst part of the team’s inconsistent play is the players and coaches know that the defensive lapses and lull in scoring is costing them games. Despite this knowledge no steps other than repeating standard hockey cliches are being taken to correct the team’s issues. Once again, I applaud the Flames’ management in having confidence in this group but the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results.
The Flames sit 27th overall in the League with a -26 goal differential. Clearly, the Flames goaltending and offensive production has been the Achilles heel of this team. Coming into the season, the Flames depth on defence was supposed to be the team’s strength but with the team under performing it may be the key to improving the team in its struggling areas. Specifically, two key pieces the that may be available on the trade market is Ben Bishop and Matt Duchene.
Regardless of a team’s position in the standings, GMs never stop looking for top tier defencemen and Flames have the pieces that could meet this League-wide need. Indeed, these trade ideas may belong on one of those crazy trade rumor message boards but the point remains the Flames need to be shaken up. A shakeup to the roster, even a small one, may put the players on notice that their jobs may not be safe. Thus, allowing the team to find the consistent play it has been looking for since the season started.