The state of affairs with the Flames in Calgary is, of course, not good. Bottom of the barrel in the Western Conference and ahead of only lowly Eastern teams overall, the Flames have disappointed mightily.
You’d have to imagine that under any other GM, coach Brent Sutter would have been fired by now. But anyone can understand why older brother Darryl would have a tough time pulling the trigger on that move. You’ve got to believe the GM and the coach are on the same page when it comes to what they want their players to do; the problem is the players don’t seem to be.
As players themselves, the Sutters (and their three other NHL-playing brothers) were known as hard-nosed, salt-of-the-earth types who specialized in smart, two-way play. For the most part they were checkers, guys you could count on to be there when the going got tough. But they also delivered the intangibles needed to spark their teams; a big hit, a timely goal, a key defensive play, whatever was needed.
That’s the least they expect of their players today, but that’s not your Flames, folks.
Calgary’s penalty kill is un-Sutter like in its ability to stop the other team from scoring. The Flames are just middle of the pack in total bodychecks and blocked shots, and near the NHL’s basement in faceoff percentage. As for holding leads, they hover around .500, a mark that has them contending for worst in the league.
Although the Flames have showed some gumption by earning points in games after allowing the first goal, they generally tail off the further contests go, allowing many more goals in the final two periods than they score.
What does it all add up to? The Flames have finished the second period behind in more than half their games, and have managed points in just three of those; the reason they are where they are in the standings.
Say what you like about bad luck, injuries and the like. But the Sutters weren’t the type of players who frittered away leads or came out flat in the later stages of games. Their Flames are both those things.
Something will have to give soon. And as they say, “You can’t fire the players.”
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.