Flames need immediate bounceback after very bad weekend

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Learn the lessons and move on.

That’s all the Calgary Flames can do.

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After getting badly beaten by the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the Calgary Flames were somehow even worse in Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

And with management having dealt away soon-to-be unrestricted free-agents Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Elias Lindholm recently, it isn’t exactly encouraging that the Flames were out-scored 13-3 in their first two games after the NHL trade deadline.

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This isn’t what it’s going to be like for the rest of the year, right?

The hope has to be that the Flames can analyze the lacklustre efforts we saw from them this weekend in isolation and get back to playing like the team they believe they can be.

“We just weren’t very good, period,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska when speaking with reporters in Carolina post-game. “No explanation for it. I don’t think we were competitive enough tonight. For me, that’s what it comes down to a lot of times. You have to make sure your work is there and your detail is there and tonight we didn’t have either.”

Why weren’t the details there? Why wasn’t the workrate what it needed to be?
Those are questions the Flames need to ask themselves, but the cold, hard facts are that the Flames vowed to be better after they fell 5-1 to the Panthers. And on Sunday, they weren’t better.

For a team that still believes it can pull off the improbable and make up the eight points that separates them from the Vegas Golden Knights, who are sitting in the Western Conference’s second wild card spot, performances like the one we saw from the Flames on Sunday just aren’t going to cut it.

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“Got out-played, out-competed, everything,” Flames winger Blake Coleman told reporters post-game. “Just an awful effort all-round.”
If there’s any temptation among fans to use the fact that the Flames were playing their second game in 24 hours as an excuse or an explanation for their poor performance, the players themselves flat-out rejected that suggestion.

Forward Dryden Hunt, who scored on Sunday, dutifully pointed out that every team in the NHL has to play back-to-backs. It’s part of the job, and while it might not be easy, it also doesn’t always result in 7-2 scorelines.

It’s probably fair to point out that both the Panthers and Hurricanes are very good hockey teams and considered contenders for deep playoff runs, at the very least. There’s no shame in losing to teams like that when you play hard, but that’s not what happened on Saturday.

“Definitely frustrating,” Hunt said. “We go home and play two really good teams this week so another good chance for us to measure up against the teams that are going for it so hopefully we can take some lessons from this game and bring them into the next game.”

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The next game happens to be against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. Then, the Golden Knights roll into Calgary on Thursday for a game in which a loss could put the Flames’ playoff hopes to bed for good.

The effort needs to be better in both of those games if the Flames are going to have any hope of picking up points against two very strong opponents.
The effort will need to be better against any opposition, really, because if the Flames play the way they did on Sunday even the NHL’s worst will make life hard for them.

The Flames have done a remarkable job overcoming tough circumstances this year. They probably deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this very bad weekend.

But they’ll need to prove they’ve learned whatever lessons can be taken from their disappointing performances, and they need to do it quickly.

“I’ve gotten my a– kicked plenty of times in this league and it’s how you respond,” Coleman said. “Our leadership group will make sure that showing never happens again.”

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