The Calgary Flames’ recent struggles are well documented. They have gone 5 games without winning a game, one of the longest streak in recent years. Now what’s with the recent struggles of this team? Could it be something is mentally wrong with the players or is there a bad vibe in the locker room? Maybe there is too much worry for the playoffs. Those are all possibilities, but what really matters is that they are not winning.
The last few results for the Flames have been:
- Colorado Avalanche def. Calgary Flames 3-2 in OT
- Pittsburgh Penguins def. Calgary Flames 3-1 in Regulation
- Nashville Predators def. Calgary Flames 1-0 in Regulation
- Anaheim Ducks def. Calgary Flames 5-4 in Regulation
- San Jose Sharks def. Calgary Flames 9-1 in Regulation
While some of those games could have gone either way the most recent result is no joke! 9-1 is a terrible result to go around with, not only does it show how bad your defense is, it’s a basic cry for help. Now why would the Flames just choose now to break down? They have done great all season and climbing the Western Conference standings, reaching as high as 2nd place at one point. Right now they sit 7th, while it is still a playoff seat it is not a spot that a team of Calgary’s talent should be in.
Some problems at this point?
Jarome Iginla is struggling. He has not been tallying points like he usually does. This is a guy usually in the Top 10 for points scoring and up there in goals, where is he now? I’ll tell you where he is, at 29th spot in the NHL for points with 43 points. That is not Iginla like at all. Is it olympic pressure working in on the man?
I think it is. With the upcoming olympics all players out there want to prove themselves and that could be a mental issue for Jarome, it could be psycing him out. Normally he would be a lock for the top line on the team, now? At this point I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up on a checking line.
But let’s look away from the olympics for a moment. A guy is a captain the leads a team, his full focus should be on his squad at all times. Whether it is the olympic theory for why his play is down or it’s something else it isn’t a good thing. Iginla has to rise above whatever is holding him back to relight the flame that burns in the Calgary Flames locker room.
The defense hasn’t exactly been prize picking either, for a team that is suppose to have one of the best defensive crops in the league there is a lot of room for improvement. Dion Phaneuf is once again struggling and this is a guy that they had big plans for. Over the past few seasons he has lost that hitting touch, the very thing that made him a monster. He has also been struggling in the points margin recently. At this point, if no improvement is shown I wouldn’t be hesitant to trade him, hopefully getting either a dynamic forward, a good defender or a legitament backup for starting Flames goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff.
One of the bright spots of the season has been the terrific play of their starter Miikka Kiprusoff. Although that 9-1 game doesn’t best showcase his talent, he has been truly great this season. If we were picking half season Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy candidates then Miikka Kiprusoff would without a doubt get nominations for both. Hell he might even take one of the two home.
Another thing that the Flames can be happy about is how Rene Bourque is playing this season. He is second in Calgary Flames scoring. He has shown excellent promise and gives Calgary some hope for the future. Hopefully he can continue to contribute and put some on the board to help Calgary get the victory.
So what can the Calgary Flames do to improve?
The most important thing in my mind is with the upcoming Olympic Games, Miikka Kiprusoff will be leaving to play goalie for Finland. No disrespect to the backup, Curtis McElhinney, but he will NOT be able to carry the Flames team during that time. I think while you have the chance, go out and trade Curtis McElhinney plus a pick or minor league player for a backup that can take over while Miikka is involved with the Olympics.
There are also a few things you can do to shape things up when it comes to the defense. You have a lot of guys that could draw great attention from other teams in the league. If you see a situation where another team is offering you a player better than yours then by all means go for it.
Now I know trading isn’t that big in the league anymore, but sometimes you just need to be persistent and pursue the opportunity.
Now I know Calgary isn’t in a situation right now where they need to jump the gun on anything, but if the opportunity rises no should not be an answer. They still have a great squad, but they cannot go on dropping games especially like the San Jose one. Rebuilding is not needed, but adjustment can always be made.
We don’t want the Flames to rush on things, but when hope seems gone go out on a limb is my advice. With any luck the Calgary Flames will turn things around soon enough and take back the division lead. If not then things have to be done, now!
This article was originally published on FTS Sports Writing. Check out this piece and more from Svyato and the rest of the staff.
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