Remember back at the start of the season, when the Calgary Flames were a plucky team that scrapped for every puck despite being overpowered in all aspects of the game? Yeah, Flames fans probably don’t, either.
If Calgarians have a case of collective amnesia, it’s likely because they’ve been so horrified by watching their team on home ice. Everybody knew it was going to be a long year for the Flames, but Southern Alberta’s boys have now dropped seven straight at home, scoring a woeful four goals during that stretch. Even at the height of the Dead Puck Era, 0.57 goals per game won’t get you many victories. Taking it a step further, Thursday night’s 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets means Calgary hasn’t posted a regulation win in its own barn since Dec. 4, when the stores were just starting to strike up the Christmas carols.
The reasons for Calgary’s struggles are exactly what you’d expect—the team simply has nobody who can create offence from scratch, especially with Mike Cammalleri missing the past three games with a concussion, Curtis Glencross shelved with an ankle injury and puck-moving D-man Kris Russell out with a sprained knee. When Cammalleri was in the lineup, he represented the only high-end goal threat wearing red and orange. Aside from the two 80-point seasons Cammalleri has registered in his career, not one Flames player has a 60-point campaign on his resume. Jiri Hudler, Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak…these are all players who can fit on effective second and third lines if they’re playing with people who can dictate the pace of the game. But in terms of being lead horses, they’re entirely miscast.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Sean Monahan has, predictably, hit a bit of a wall and while centre Mikael Backlund has actually shown signs of life lately, he still has just a single tally in his past nine home games and is on pace for fewer than 35 points.
It’s also a little harder to push for goals when you don’t have faith in the goalies and the Flames aren’t getting a whole lot of saves from either Karri Ramo or Reto Berra, which adds to club’s pile of demoralizing problems.
The good news is, pretty soon Flames fans can get a bit more excited about their future as the predictable fire sale on veterans takes effect and more youth and draft picks flood into the organization. That won’t solve the problem of Calgary’s home struggles, but should help put people’s minds in a place that slightly insulates them from what’s currently playing out in front of their eyes.