We are now 10 games into the NHL regular season, and it is time for teams to start jockeying for position in the standings. If the first 10 games are any hint at how the Flames will play the rest of the season, we fans will be frustrated all year long, but happy with the end results.
Sitting at 6-4-0, the Flames are off to one of their best October's in a long time, but some of the demons from last year can still be seen lurking in the shadows. Sitting in 3rd place in the western conference and atop the northwest division, they are enjoying success early, but inconsistency and the inability to hold a lead has recently plagued them.
After an absolute domination of one of the leagues top teams (San Jose) on Oct 24, the Flames would face Edmonton next. After the first period of the Edmonton game, the Flames led 4-1. It would seem that things were beginning to click, and that Calgary could be the surprise team in the early going.
It was not meant to be, however. A late second period goal by Edmonton's Jordan Eberle opened the flood gates, and before the final buzzer, the Flames found themselves tied and headed to overtime. To many Flames fans, it was reminiscent of last season's come-from-behind OT loss to Chicago!
They would find their game, though, and out-shoot Edmonton 4-1 in the five-minute 4-on-4 frame, and win it with a shootout goal from Alex Tanguay--and a little Mikka magic. However, they surrendered a point to a division rival that should not have gotten one.
Next up, the Colorado Avalanche. Another good start in the first period, where the Flames are scoring most of their goals, especially at home. But then the wheels fell off, again. The Flames surrendered two leads and eventually went down 5-4 to Colorado. They then came back to tie it up, only to see a defensive breakdown that led to Colorado's game winner with only a few minutes left.
Opinions vary as to why this trend seems to be happening: the Flames are too old and lose their legs late in the game, or they become too comfortable with large leads.
Bottom line is that for the Flames to be successful, they need consistent, hard work for 60 minutes a night. They are not a flashy, speedy team, but if they outwork their opponent, they can make life very hard and frustrating on other teams.
Despite the downside, though, the Flames are (early in the season) a playoff team, and if they were to win the Colorado game, would be tied for No. 1 in the entire NHL. It's still early, and there is still room to improve. Let's just hope that they can finally buy into the system that Coach Sutter wants. When they do, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
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