The Calgary Flames finally notched a win, putting an end to an extended losing skid.
That is, no doubt, a relief.
But is it the start of a roll in the right direction?
“You can’t be one-and-done in this league,” stressed Flames alternate captain Rasmus Andersson. “You have to get on a run, especially after losing six in a row. We have to get on a run and play some good hockey. We’re playing some really tough teams here in the next few weeks.”
Saturday’s 6-3 victory over the Seattle Kraken is an important first step.
The Flames needed that one.
They needed the boost of confidence, needed the good vibes in the locker room, needed to prove they could come up with timely goals in clutch moments and needed to add a couple of points to what is a paltry total.
And now, they need to do it again.
They have yet to win back-to-back games this season. They’d like to change that Tuesday, when they welcome the Nashville Predators to the Saddledome (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
“It’s always hard to be on a long losing streak,” conceded Flames captain Mikael Backlund, who also snapped out of his own offensive funk with a pair of third-period goals in Seattle, after Monday’s practice. “We were trying to keep it positive in here but when you’re losing, it’s always a little harder. Today, you could tell the guys were a little more upbeat. It’s a nice feeling, winning again. And now we have to push each other to keep winning games.”
Because after dropping six straight, you can’t erase the damage with just one W.
And with a 3-7-1 record, you still need to do a significant amount of scrolling to find the Flames in the NHL’s overall standings.
That’s why it is so crucial to build on the positives from Saturday’s slump-buster in Seattle. They were pleased with their pace — especially important against such a speedy opponent — and with the way they rallied to claim and then protect the lead in the final frame. As Flames bench boss Ryan Huska put it: “There are a lot of good things that we can take from that game.”
“It allows everybody to breathe a little bit,” Huska added. “There’s no hiding it — when you’re not getting the results, the players feel it, the staff feels it … It’s heavy. The challenge now is you take the new-found energy and you don’t think it’s going to come easy the next game. We have to be harder and we have to be smarter than we were in Seattle, and that’s the way the game is going to be from now on for us.”
After Tuesday’s tilt with the Predators, who arrive in Calgary with a 5-6-0 mark, the Flames will pack for a no-passport-required roadie that includes stops in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
“We see every game as a winnable game,” said centre Nazem Kadri, who is now riding a three-game point-spree. “I think we’re a good enough hockey team to be in every fight and to go on a bit of a run. We just have to continue the way we want to play.
“Last game, especially on the road in a tough building, was one of the most complete games we’ve had this season. Structurally, some things have taken some time to get used to, but now we’re starting to catch on.”
So … can they start to roll?
“A big win,” Backlund said. “And now we have to keep it coming.”
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READY TO ROCK?
Flames forward Adam Ruzicka was a full participant in Monday’s practice and there is optimism that he could be in the home lineup against the Predators.
The 24-year-old Ruzicka has missed the past four outings with a shoulder injury.
“I know you guys probably hear ‘day-to-day’ forever and you’re laughing at me,” Huska said. “But he’s been close. It’s just some minor little things. So we’re hopeful that he responds well after today and we have him available for tomorrow.”
During Monday’s prep session, Ruzicka was operating between A.J. Greer and Walker Duehr as Calgary’s fourth-line centre.
ICE CHIPS: First-line winger Andrew Mangiapane, who has scored a team-high four goals this fall, will miss Tuesday’s tilt as he serves a one-game suspension for cross-checking.
On X: @WesGilbertson
Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to email@example.com