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NHL

Calgary: Something’s Gotta Give

The Calgary Flames dropped 2 of 3 to the Ottawa Senators after a 5-1 loss Monday night. They have now lost 7 of their last 10. Something’s gotta give.

General Manager Brad Treliving made the trip to Ottawa this time around. This comes after Montreal fired their head coach Claude Julian, after losing to the Senators. His appearance raised plenty of eyebrows and gave fans a glimmer of hope that change is on its way.

It was mismanagement that once again cost the Flames two points. Geoff Ward’s fourth line was Simon-Nordstrom-Leivo. It often times feels like he pulls names out of a hat to complete his lineup. Nordstrom at center is an interesting choice I’m not entirely sure one could easily explain. In total, he spent just under 8 minutes on ice. As a whole, the bottom 3 were on the ice for under 5 minutes.

It was Milan Lucic who scored the lone goal of the game. This was his second goal of the three game tilt. His production has improved since Ward has taken over as head coach. In 62 games, Lucic had 8 goals. He has 6 goals in 23 games. There’s room to speculate that Ward is playing favorites with the veteran. Ward and Lucic were in Boston in 2011, the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. There is no real reason why Lucic should be on the ice for an average of 12 minutes a night.

The 32 year old offered up some comments postgame which could be interpreted in many different ways.

Secondary scoring showed up to win the game on Saturday but then disappeared in tonight’s performance. The Flames tallied 28 shots on goal, which is ten less from Saturday. One thing the team has struggled with is overpassing. The puck will die on players’ sticks and there is nothing to build off of.

The Flames’ biggest problem is falling behind early. They are 1-10 when entering the third period trailing. It’s almost a guaranteed loss when their opponent gets out in front. It’s as if they lose all the air in their tires. They may gain that momentum back on the off chance they score or it really is a disaster for the remainder of the game.

How much of this can you put on the players when you aren’t being given much to work with. Your top six cannot carry the team through a season whether it be shortened or not. Middle six seem to be wishy washy and then your forth line could be replaced by prospects or a beer league line.

Ward has mismanaged the team almost all season. He did not bench Lucic when he was taking multiple unnecessary penalties a night and costing the team goals. Brett Ritchie who hadn’t played in the NHL in over a year and the AHL in exactly a year, made an appearance with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for nearly 9 minutes. Not sure what you can be expected to do when Nikita Nesterov is on the ice for multiple goals against in a single game. Ward’s refusal to move Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin to the first pairing is only hurting the team. Mark Giordano has not been much of a leader this season and you have seen Captain like comments coming from “locker room bad guy” Matthew Tkachuk.

Where does the team go from here? Do the Flames throw in the towel and miss the playoffs, sparing their fans of another disappointing first round exit? Should ownership fire Ward and actually pay a head coach like Gerard Gallant? Or do we stick to the narrative that it is in fact a group of lazy players and blow up the core? Only time will tell.