The Flames played their tenth game of the season Saturday evening - a home tilt against the rival Utica Comets. The game was in many ways a summary of the season to date - strong offense, weak defense with some inconsistent goaltending sprinkled in - resulting in a 5-4 loss. The Flames were outshot 13 to 4 in the opening period, found themselves down 2-0 after the opening 2:01, down 4-1 early in the second and 5-2 midway through the second. The team rallied strong from this deficit, to end the second period at 5-4 - but couldn't get the equalizer in a scoreless third. The bright point of the night was the play of Emile Poirier. In his first game back from off season surgery, he scored twice and was involved in several scoring opportunities.
Ryan Huska's post game interview:
Observations at the 10 game mark -
- The team has improved from a tough start, but still is inconsistent. Their record of 3-6-1 puts them in the bottom third of the Western Conference.
- Home cooking - the team is 3-3-0 at home, 0-3-1 on the road. The Flames next 5 games are on the road, with their next home game being 11/18. This will certainly be a test for this young club.
- Offense - from an offensive perspective, this is an exciting team to watch. They are averaging 3 goals per game at the 10 game mark, but have scored 22 of those goals in the past 4 games.
- Defense - The Flames give up 4.2 goals per game, worst in the AHL. Although the goaltending has been inconsistent at times, the team defense has really struggled. Often, the team does not adequately shut down shooting and passing lanes. Additionally, they tend to try to make a fancier play to clear the zone than required, resulting in getting trapped in their own zone for extended shifts.
- Special teams - The Flames are one of the most penalized teams (a couple games have driven this total) with 242 PPM in their first 10 games. They have struggled on the PK - giving up 13 goals in 47 shorthanded situations (72% - last in the AHL). The PP started to click prior to the recent call ups of Granlund and Ferland. On the season, the Flames have scored 13 PPG on 56 opportunities (23% - 5th in the AHL). In the past three games, however the PP is 7 for 21.
- Call ups - In this early season, the team has already had to deal with some of their top talent being recalled to Calgary - Jooris, Granlund, and Ferland. This morning, Sven Baertschi was recalled as well.
- The Hockey News has predicted that the Flames will finish 3rd in the AHL Western Conference.