It was three Sutters ago the Calgary Flames last went seven straight games giving up the first goal.
It was 1997-98 and Brian Sutter’s team was terrible, missing the playoffs by 11 points.
The struggles of the current Flames squad plunged to new lows Thursday night when a St. Louis Blues goal 12 minutes into the first frame set a new franchise record. That’s an unprecedented eight straight games allowing the first goal, setting the stage for their sixth-straight loss.
Terrible, once again.
Fresh off of ending a 167-minute goal drought, the Flames started a new streak, now 64:16 minutes long following their 5-0 loss in St. Louis. For those keeping track, the Flames have scored just five goals in their last six outings and have allowed the first goal in 17 of 25 games.
The team had a player’s only meeting after the game. They are also getting dangerously close to a desperation roster shakeup by the GM.
Plenty to contemplate.
Perhaps the most demoralizing aspect of the team’s latest beatdown is that the Flames played well. The effort and the chances were there, but so were the mental mistakes that have cost them on so many nights of late.
An Oliver Kylington turnover at his blue line led to the first goal, a bad read by Mark Giordano at the opposition’s defensive end allowed Oskar Sundqvist to score on a breakaway. It was the 13th time the Flames allowed the opposition to go up 2-0.
Shortly after that, it was over against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Give the Flames credit, they never quit the fight, peppering Jordan Binnington with 33 shots the first two periods, and 40 all told.
As part of their ongoing fight, Andrew Mangiapane was caught midway through the game looking down at the puck mid-ice when he was blown up by Vince Dunn. The hit was high, and certainly one the league will look at due to the contact to the head. Alas, Dunn got off scot-free, other than having to deal with a dog-pile started by Zac Rinaldo, who was the only one to land a penalty in the exchange.
Seconds later, David Perron made it 3-0 with a power-play goal that ended any hopes of a comeback.
A Johnny Gaudreau backhand off the crossbar, a Mikael Backlund shot off the post and a missed open net by Sean Monahan, all in the second frame, typified the luck of the visitors of late.
But let’s forget for a second how St. Louis capitalized on Flames gaffes – the Blues were simply a horrific mismatch for the Flames, showing just how far Calgary has fallen from respectability.
Surely at some point their luck will change, especially with an effort like this. But the news got worse as Mangiapane, who immediately went off for repairs, didn’t return, meaning yet another call to Stockton for help could be imminent.
David Rittich once again stood tall through a first period in which he saw plenty of Grade A chances. But the fourth Blues goal was his fault, as he was caught trying to play the puck behind the net, leading to Sundqvist’s second of the night.
The team that had the second-most goals in the NHL last year now has two goals in its last four outings.
Not good enough – a mantra dogging this reeling bunch all season long.
• Flames GM Brad Treliving gave an update on TJ Brodie several hours before the game: “TJ has been working out for the past several days and today skated on his own under the supervision of our medical staff. Over this past week he has had consultations with appropriate specialists in Calgary. To date all medical evaluations and testing have been reassuring. We still work to complete final testing and are optimistic he will re-join the team in the near future. TJ has been placed on injury reserve retroactive to November 14th.”
• Sam Bennett is still out week-to-week and Travis Hamonic is not on this four-game road trip due to an undisclosed ailment, but could join the club soon.
• Former Flames and Blues forward Troy Brouwer made good on a recent PTO opportunity and was signed to a two-way deal by the Blues Wednesday. The Calgary resident was not in the lineup, but was in the building to see endless former teammates.
The Flames move onto Philadelphia for a matinee affair with the Flyers in Game 2 of their four-game roadie.