In my last article, I told Flames fans not to panic until you can assess the first ten games of the season. Well, nine games is close enough to ten and a record of 2-7-0 needs to be talked about. Following the Flames’ come from behind overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on October 23, I was anticipating writing an article talking about how that win would give the team the momentum it needed to turn this season around. However, with the exception of the first period against the New York Rangers on October 25 the team has laid an egg in terms of play on its current three game road trip. Mind you, the Ranger and New York Islanders are quality opposition but from my vantage point the same problem continues to plague the team: inconsistency.
Indeed, this team has looked like the 2014-2015 Flames at times this season. For example, the first period against the Rangers was pretty close to as perfect a road period a team could play. If you looked at the following two periods the ice seemed tilted towards the Flames’ end. The game ended as a 4-1 loss and marked another time where stretches of inconsistent and uninspired play cost the team the game. Of course, you could point to the goalies for not bailing the team out, the lack of scoring depth, or the defence not playing to its potential as reasons for the losses to start the season. I’m sorry to tell you Flames fans but he personnel is not changing any time soon. Indeed, the team has sent Karri Ramo to the Stockton Heat of the AHL and is going to try its hand with Joni Ortio in goal but that is about as big a personnel change you are going to get. The Hockey Insiders at TSN ( Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun, and Darren Dreger) reported that GM Brad Treliving would like to spark his team with a deal but is hesitant because any deal would require moving some of Flames’ depth on defence (i.e., Dennis Wideman and/or Kris Russel). Russel and Wideman are significant pieces for the Flames who are playing well, I don’t think moving one of them puts the team that much further ahead at the end of the season.
Considering the trade market, it looks like it will be up to the current guys in the Flames’ locker room to get out of this funk. As some writers have suggested, maybe it’s time for Hartley to institute some tough love and scratch regulars from the lineup to inspire them. If this does not work and the current trends in the team’s play continue fans may have to accept that 2014-2015 was a mirage and 2015-2016 is revealing the Flames’ true identity; indeed, the Colorado Avalanche went through this last season. While I have painted a pretty grim picture in this article please keep in mind that there is no doubting that the Flames got the talent behind the bench and on the roster to turn this season around. It is just that time is of the essence because you can’t clinch a playoff spot in October but you can certainly lose one.