LOS ANGELES – Shortly after their morning skate, Flames players were greeted by the familiar moustache, grin and handshake of Lanny McDonald.
Making the rounds in an effort to lend support to the lads as they cling to the fringes of the playoff race, he offered them up a simple message.
“Twelve games left: that’s 20 minutes for each guy a night, which is 240 minutes – four hours,” said McDonald, in town with team sponsors.
“If you give it your best for four hours each, that’s what makes it work.”
Well, according to Lannylytics, at least they’ve still got 220 minutes left to demonstrate they’re capable of staying in this fight.
Sure didn’t look like it Monday.
“It was a brutal game,” said Rasmus Andersson after an 8-2 humiliation at Crypto.com Arena, where the Flames found themselves down 4-0 to a red-hot Kings club in the first period.
“There’s nothing more to say, really.”
One day after being buoyed by seeing playoff rivals Winnipeg and Nashville skunked, the Flames followed suit with yet another massive setback to their playoff plans.
In front of a highly entertained crowd that included John Legend, Vince Vaughn and Stampeder-turned-Broncos signing Alex Singleton, the Flames were outshot 14-3 in an opening frame that was easily the team’s most uninspired performance dating back to their home loss to Minnesota.
Yet, head coach Darryl Sutter refused to blame the team’s energy or readiness.
“They jumped all over us, all over our mistakes we made in the first period,” said Sutter, whose club was outshot 10-0 the final 12 minutes of the period.
“It’s not always about energy, tonight was just about getting outplayed.
“Game plan was, you’re down 4-0, you pretty much have to flush and start again. There’s no other way around it.
“(Tyler Toffoli) scored the power-play goal to start the second, but five-on-five I think they dominated us.
“Flush it. Let’s go.”
For those keeping track, that’s 17 goals scored by the Kings in the three-game series with Calgary.
The shots favoured the Kings, 39-18, which was entirely indicative of how badly outplayed the Flames were.
For those who have yet to give up on this team, the Flames remain four back of Winnipeg and one up on Nashville, who have three games in hand.
Up next, Anaheim on Tuesday.
Nazem Kadri’s frustrations continued, as his time on the ice was cut back for the third straight game, finishing at 12:35 of total shift time. Despite being bumped from fourth-line duties to a line between Dillon Dube and Jakob Pelletier, Kadri’s only impact in the game came midway through the third when his took a cross-checking penalty and appeared to try drawing Adrian Kempe into a fight.
Nothing seemed to work for him, or any of the Flames.
“They outworked us from the drop of the puck and pretty much every facet of the game,” said Trevor Lewis in the quietest of dressing rooms.
“We were too slow, and got out-worked, and that’s what happens
“It’s tough to fall down early to anyone like that. They came out right from the drop of the puck and we weren’t ready for it, and for us to have a chance for the playoffs here, we’re going to have to work a lot harder and play our game tomorrow.”
Jacob Markstrom was mercifully lifted after two periods and six goals on 26 shots, replaced by Dan Vladar, whose first appearance in 10 games sets up an interesting debate on who Sutter will start against the Ducks.
“It’s a tough call, because you’re already thinking when it’s (4-0) … you’re thinking about tomorrow already, right, so you’re kind of in between in what you’re doing,” said Sutter of the decision to pull Markstrom.
“But (Vladar) hadn’t played in a while, so, good to get him the third.”