A pair of frustrated and floundering teams will meet on Thursday night when the Calgary Flames play host to the St. Louis Blues.
While the Blues arrive in the Stampede City having dropped two of three games and three of five, the Flames are in desperate need of changing their fortunes amidst a three-game skid.
“Losing’s got to keep you up at night,” Calgary forward Blake Coleman told the media after Tuesday’s 3-1 home-ice setback against the New York Rangers. “I know it’s easy to say, but I’m sick of losing. I think I can speak for the guys in our room that we’re sick of losing. But it burns me up. You’ve got to be one of those guys that hates to lose more than win, and I think we’re just, as a group, we’ve got to have way more fire.”
The Flames have managed just one win in six outings since they opened the season with a victory. Adding to their frustration is how so many of their losses have come in games where they were either ahead or at least even with a chance to win in the third period.
Their loss to the Rangers was a perfect example. Calgary, which has scored first in five of its seven games, held a 1-0 edge early in the second period, but surrendered three unanswered goals despite outplaying the Rangers. Tensions are running high.
“We’ve got to stick together,” Flames captain Mikael Backlund said. “You find out a lot about your group when things are tough, about individuals, too, when things aren’t going your way. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves here. The next game is the biggest game of the year.”
The Blues arrive after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, which kicked off a four-game road trip. St. Louis surrendered a pair of goals 18 seconds apart early in the second period to fall behind 2-0 and spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.
“We had some opportunities, and we missed a couple wide-open nets,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. “Second period, we fell asleep there for the two goals. … We were sleeping on both of (the goals), so that really changed things.”
Although that defensive lapse was costly in Winnipeg, goal-scoring has been the biggest issue. The Blues have managed only four shots in the third period of three consecutive games, just one part of their struggling attack. St. Louis has managed only one power-play goal this season (1-for-15).
Through their five games, the Blues have netted only 10 goals. Calgary has tallied 17 times in seven outings.
With their inability to sustain offensive pressure, the Blues have been unable to control the tempo and wear down their opponents.
“We have to raise our battle level,” St. Louis captain Brayden Schenn said. “You’re not going to generate chances if we’re not going to check as hard as we need to. We showed in the Pittsburgh game (a 4-2 win Saturday) that if we check, we generate and get chances. But if we kind of sit back and watch them play in your end, turn over the puck and not forecheck and create turnovers, you’re not going to get chances and shots.”