With losing streak at three, Flames need to win now

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Jacob Markstrom and MacKenzie Weegar didn’t agree on who was at fault for the St. Louis Blues’ goal that seemed to flip momentum in Tuesday night’s game.

Both Calgary Flames players wanted to take the blame at the Saddledome.

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What everybody seemed to agree on after the 4-3 loss to the Blues (23-20-2), though, was that the Flames (21-21-5) need to stop their current three-game losing streak and they need to stop it now.

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It’s not about feeling better about themselves going into the all-star break. It’s not about confidence or momentum or anything like that.

It’s about getting points in the standings. That’s all that matters now. Three straight losses are too much.

They need to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. It’s as simple as that.

“It’s bigger picture now,” Markstrom said. “You want to stick around and be in the hunt and in the mix and tonight was a tough one. We were up going into the third and I’ve got to come up with a few more saves tonight and then we’re sitting here with two points and a happy group.”

The responsibility for Tuesday night’s loss certainly doesn’t fall on Markstrom’s shoulders.

It would absolutely not be fair to lay the blame at Weegar’s feet, either.

And really, the “how” doesn’t actually matter all that much. The Flames lost a game that they were leading 3-1 late in the second period. They lost a game they absolutely needed to win.

That two-goal lead was reduced to one late in the second frame when Weegar misplayed a puck near his own blue-line. It was pounced on by Brayden Schenn, who took off on a breakaway and buried the puck past Markstrom to make it 3-2.

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The goal seemed to change the momentum of the game. The Blues would go on to score two more, including the game-winner in the final minute when Brandon Saad threw a weird, bouncing puck at the Flames net that got past Markstrom.

Weegar, though, was focused on his own mistake. It might not be the reason the Flames lost the game, but it didn’t help.

To his credit, he didn’t hesitate to take accountability.

“That’s a bulls— play,” Weegar said. “As an older guy, as a leader, even a young guy, it’s unacceptable that I make a play like that on the power-play with not a lot of time on the clock.

“It would be a completely different game going into that third period.”

That’s what you want to hear from a guy in Weegar’s position. He owned up to his mistake and vowed to be better.

Jacob Markstrom
St. Louis Blues forward Brandon Saad scores the game-winner on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom i at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Then, when Markstrom came to the mic stand to address the media, the Flames goaltender tried to take the blame himself.

“Stuff like that is going to happen every game,” Markstrom said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m still back there and it’s my job, how many shots are these guys blocking for me? It’s my job to bail them out there when stuff like that happens and I didn’t do that, so that’s tough.”

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All of this is, presumably, what Flames fans want to hear from the guys on their team.

It’s a group of player having each other’s backs and taking ownership for the way they play. Nobody in their right mind would look at Schenn’s goal and get mad at Markstrom for it, but he wasn’t going to let Weegar fall on his sword.

That’s what you want to see.

But at the same time, as Markstrom said, there’s a bigger picture to think about here. Accountability is great, but right now, wins are what matter. Again, we’re not blaming Weegar and/or Markstrom for Tuesday night’s loss. The reality is that over 60 minutes, the Blues did more to win.

And the Flames need to stop that from happening. Not soon, now.

They’re four points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference, but they’d have to leapfrog the Seattle Kraken, the Blues, the Arizona Coyotes and the Nashville Predators to get into a playoff position.

There isn’t much room for error.

“We’ve dropped three in a row at home, that’s not something that’s OK,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska. “There’s stretches in games and stretches in your season where I think, at times, you come back in games or you string together four (wins) in a row. We’re in a stretch now where we have to stop the bleeding at home here, we have two more games at home here and we have to make sure they’re the most important games.”

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