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The Flames Need To Do Some Soul Searching As They Take On The Oilers Tonight

There’s so much to unpack with Calgary that there may not be enough time.

Edmonton Oilers v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers, 8 PM MT, Rogers Place, Edmonton AB

TV: NHLN, CBC, SN - Radio: Sportsnet 960

Calgary Flames (8-8-1, 17 pts) - Edmonton Oilers (11-8-0, 22 pts)

NHL Standings

Shrug your shoulders. Kick rocks. Stare out a window sadly. What else can you do at this point? The Calgary Flames are in a rut. Yes, they’ve only dropped two in a row, but even before this ‘lil hiccup, they’ve been a disjointed and confusing team to watch. Each and every night there is inconsistent play, lack of effort and a look of malaise on the ice. There are a handful of Flames playing like they actually give a damn, while the rest are coasting through games or just aren’t good enough to be on the ice. It’s a problem that really doesn’t have any quick fixes and who knows when it will get rectified.

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers are winners of nine of their last twelve game. This run of good fortune has seen Edmonton climb to second place in the North Division, five points ahead of the 5th place Flames and six points behind front running Toronto. Everything seems to be clicking for them at this time, even though maybe we should all take a little bit of caution when evaluating them as they don’t get a ton of secondary scoring and have had a easy schedule of late. But still, you have to win the games on your calendar and the Oilers are doing just that.

Calgary once again fell behind in the first period last night and weren’t able to overcome a two deficit after almost two periods. They fired a meek 21 shots at Mike Smith, who easily turned aside 20 of them. The Flames meanwhile, once again, gave their goalie little to no support and left David Rittich out to dry. The Flames backup took the loss, but he looked very solid between the pipes. If I were the Flames I’d give Markstrom another night off, through no fault of his own, and let Rittich keep getting some minutes to boost his confidence. But this is Geoff Ward’s team and we know that’s not going to happen.

I don’t have any concrete answers for how to fix what ails the Flames. Some suggestions? Give Johnny Gaudreau some real line mates or create a line that suits him. He’s the Flames most dangerous player. He’s been their best player NOT named Jacob Markstrom, yet he’s being bounced around and put on the ice with guys like Josh Leivo. Keep that new look 3M Line together and never break it up. Mikael Backlund is 100% the team’s best all around player and Matthew Tkachuk (not lately) and Andrew Mangiapane are the perfect players to have out there with Calgary’s best centre. Pair Mark Giordano with Juuso Valimaki or Connor Mackey. He’s a shell of the former player he was and needs less time on the ice. Leave the aforementioned Mackey in the lineup for the foreseeable future. Bring Matthew Philips and Glenn Gawdin off the taxi squad and give them an honest shot ahead of guys like Leivo and Nordstrom. The rest? That’s Ward’s job to figure out where everyone fits, but this team feels like it’s a bus on fire, with no breaks, heading towards a gas station filled with puppies: it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a happy ending.

If I were the Oilers, I’d change nothing from last night. They beat the Flames without Mike Smith having to break a sweat or getting a point from McDavid or Draisaitl. Think about that. The Oilers, who can score at will, didn’t have to and barely had to put forth a 60 minute effort to defeat their most hated rival. Yikes.

Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)

Flames: Markstrom (E): 8-5-1, 2.61 GAA, .918 SV%

Oilers: Koskinen (E): 6-8-0, 3.43 GAA, .894 SV%

Team Leaders

Flames: Goals- Gaudreau (9), Points- Gaudreau (17), PIM- Tkachuk (17), Save%- Markstrom (.918)

Oilers: Goals- McDavid (10), Points- Draisaitl (32), PIM: Nurse (23). Save%- Smith (.939)

What’s Happening With The Opposition?

Edmonton Oilers Coverage: Copper & Blue

Last Time Out

Calgary Flames 1 - Edmonton Oilers

Players To Watch

Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

Johnny Gaudreau (F): 4 points in last 5 games

Edmonton Oilers

Winnipeg Jets v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Alex Chiasson (F): 4 points in last 5 games