After the roughest week yet this season, the Flames return home to face the Rangers with 5 losses in a row.  We break down the tough road trip and what the Flames did well, who looked good, and where we need to improve. Of course, we give our take on the Edmonton coaching situation and look ahead to next week’s road trip. Can the Flames bounce back with an undefeated week of 4 games?

One good thing for tonight’s matchup is that one team will break a protracted losing streak. Vancouver has lost their last five games, while the Flames have dropped their last seven. It was around this time last year that the Flames ran into their only true rough patch of that season. The cure for that dry spell was a game against Vancouver. The infamous line brawl helped to get all the players for the Flames to play on the same page again. This has been a problem for this edition of the Flames lately, so maybe a re-match is just what the doctor ordered.

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First Period

It became apparent why the Dallas Stars have surrendered the second most goals in the NHL this season. The Flames were able to generate lots of chances off the rush, eluding the Stars’ defenders and were able to fire shots on Kari Lehtonen. However, the Stars goaltender was able to stop everything that the Flames threw at him in the opening period. At the other end of the ice, Jonas Hiller was not tested often, only facing six shots from Dallas shooters. Neither team was able to maintain control of the play for significant portions of the opening period, which resulted in a scoreless draw.

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With a new contract in hand, Bob Hartley’s Flames will look to break their winless drought against the Dallas Stars. Like most of Calgary’s opponents recently, the Stars have won three out of their last four games. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza have been the offensive catalyst for the Stars this season. Their offense is a bit lopsided, and have struggled with keeping the puck out of their own net. The Stars have surrendered the second most goals of any team in the entire NHL. Kari Lehtonen has performed poorly to start this season, and sports a dismal 2.97 Goals Against Average and .906 save percentage.

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Collectively, the sentiment from most Flames fans is it’s about time. After having this team performing on the same page and having unexpectedly positive results through both years of this rebuild, it comes as no surprise that the Flames have signed their coach to a multi year extension.

First Period

The first ten minutes of the opening period was a feeling out of the other team by both sides. Neither team had much pressure in the offensive zone, and only five shots were generated by the two teams. Rick Nash opened the scoring with eight minutes remaining in the first period. The Flames had possession of the puck but turned it over at the offensive blue line, allowing Nash to be sprung on a breakaway. He outlasted the Flames goalie and swept it in the empty net. Calgary responded with some pressure after the goal, but took a late penalty. Calgary had the best chances on the power play in the offensive zone, but could not best Lundqvist. With only seconds remaining in the period, Kris Russell thought that it would be a great opportunity to score on his own net, and left the puck inches in front of Karri Ramo. This allowed Chris Kreider to chip it past the goalie into the net. That was one of the worst plays by a Calgary Flame in years. Amazingly poor on ice judgment by Russell on that play.

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Is tonight the night the Flames get back in the saddle? After going winless on their recent road trip, and losing five games in a row, things are starting to look bleak after a near perfect start to the Flames’ season. With their most recent defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flames have fallen out of a playoff spot for the first time since the opening week. This is a major learning opportunity for this young team. They haven’t really faced any significant adversity thus far through the rebuild in terms of playoff ramifications. New situations are always good opportunities to learn more about yourself and your approach, and their response this evening will be fascinating to watch.

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First Period

Johnny Gaudreau established himself early in the game, dangling the puck behind the net including a wraparound chance that Raanta had to be sharp on. Calgary was the better team in the early going, an important difference in this contest after giving up a pair of goals in the first five minutes of last game. After the Flames got hemmed in their own zone, Jonas Hiller made a great pad save on Shaw, who was left all alone in front of Hiller, but he could not lift the puck over the sprawling goalie. David Jones got a break seconds after that chance and beat Raanta but not the post. Marian Hossa took the first penalty of the evening. He hauled down Granlund in the offensive zone, not a good penalty for the normally disciplined forward. Unfortunately, the Flames woes on the power play continued through their first chance. Both teams traded chances over the ensuing five minutes, with Gaudreau having the best chance of the bunch. He slipped through the Hawks defense and deked out Raanta, but was unable to put it through the goalie’s pads. Neither team could solve the goalies prior to the intermission.

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The struggling Calgary Flames will limp into the United Center tonight to try and stop their recent skid against the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago has been on fire recently, winning 13 of their last 16 games, however they only have one loss in December, and it came last night. Not exactly the kindest situation to face when trying to overcome a losing streak. The Flames were victorious in their last visit to Chicago, but that game was not a good example of how to win. Jonas Hiller was shelled in the contest and made 51 saves in the 2-1 overtime victory. On the bright side, the Hawks played last night in New York against the Islanders, who came from behind in the third to claim victory.

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