Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Oh, the ugly came out to play.

The title speaks for itself.  Mr. Ugly came out to play, he brought some friends, and they pitched their tents for a spell. The Flames forgot how to skate, how to play defence, and most of all, forgot how to use their brains.

So what happened? Defence slipping, blowing leads, relying on the first line, no support. Smith was weak during the losing streak, giving up bad goals at the worst time. It was like the Flames were looking for ways to lose. They are in charge of their own destiny; they can't rely on other teams losing.  

The powerplay lacks any continuity. No one seems to know where anyone is. Spending so much time overthinking and not enough shooting. Plain and simple, there is no magic. It's like a magician forgetting his magic — the players are lost and have no idea how to fix it. Mr. Cameron has to figure out what is going on and how to fix it. Because at this moment, the powerplay resembles the Keystone Cops.

I wonder if it is the system itself or the players?  Are the coaches putting players in the wrong positions? There seems to be no logic to who the coaches put on the powerplay.  The coaches' job is to put players in the best position to succeed. The Flames seem to be using players' weaknesses instead of their strengths. Unless the players can turn their weakness into strengths, the coaches may have to consider other options.

Third-period collapse rears its ugly head. Every game, the Flames have fallen apart. The defence was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The forwards like they're the reason for the defence and are too scared to try to save them.  They panic under pressure. And just when they have things under control, Smith lets in a stinker. Panic breeds panic; once it starts, it grows like a weed. The Flames have to bring back the calm. Stop trying to lose instead of trying to win.

Despite alll this, the Flames snapped their six-game losing streak last Saturday. This is a huge lift for the Flames, perhaps the turning point in the season. Their powerplay was still terrible, but they held the third-period collapse at bay.  The Flames seemed to hold it together under pressure. They were more relaxed in the third period, trying to win instead of trying to lose. The biggest improvement was in the forwards. They were supporting the defence, not being outskated. It was nice to finally see.

They backed that up with a win on Tuesday over the Hawks.  They came up with a decent third period again.  The Flames need to keep up the effort for full 60 minutes. Flames were awful for two periods in Chicago.  In the third, they got some breaks and capitalized on them. Smith put in a full 60-minute game.  Let's see how one of the best teams on the road does in their next five.

The Flames are still tracking the Sens.   They seem to scout Hoffman and Smith.  Hoffman seems to be a major target according to many sources.  A new name that seems to in the Media is Grabner. I like his speed.  He is an intriguing piece that could help the Flames make a playoff push.

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