The Calgary Flames were finally able to snap a lengthy and brutal seven-game losing streak with a 3–2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. When streaks happen early in the season, it’s not quite right to say it’s season-defining, but they can really still rattle the core identity of a team. Did the losing streak change what people thought about Calgary’s Stanley Cup contender status? We asked, you answered.
Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @wincolumnCGY. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!
The losing streak was snapped
At the time of sending the poll, the streak was at seven games and the Flames were at risk of running it up to eight especially since they were facing one of the NHL’s best goalies so far this year in Connor Hellebuyck. However, the Flames bested the Jets and put a stop to the streak, going an overall 0–5–2 prior to beating Winnipeg in regulation.
A streak this bad doesn’t bode well in building confidence for Cup contenders, but how do Flames fans think this might have affected the team? This week’s poll listed four options on how the Flames stack up among Cup contenders and if they deserve to be in the same conversation.
Calgary is still a Cup contender
18.6% of voters are unfazed by the losing streak, fully believing the Flames are still very much destined for a deep playoff run with sights set on the Stanley Cup. A rough patch to open the season with the roster turnover was to be expected. In fact, at the start of the season, we polled the fans on their expectations of the Flames, and the overwhelming sentiment went towards the team being “good with growing pains.”
Guess what, a seven-game losing streak in October and November is exactly what you might call a growing pain. Of course the Flames aren’t out of the wood yet as they really do need to string together some victories as soon as possible, but this type of early-season performance isn’t out of line at all when the team underwent such major changes. New players are still getting used to new environments and systems—this losing streak isn’t as bad this year as it could have been had it happened in years prior.
Cautious optimism with Calgary
Two options were close for the top share of votes, and cautious optimism on the Flames clocked in second at 32.9%. This is a sound approach to watching the team as they do have a chip on their shoulder whether they like it or not. The Flames’ offseason went from a near-certain rebuild right into retooling for multiple Cup runs.
The expectations of this team is that they should start playing truly dominant games and that just hasn’t been the case. Even in their losing streak they’ve shown signs of progress with the losses being attributed to misfortune more often than being the worse team. However, there’s not enough dominance on the ice quite yet as the Flames are struggling to score, having won just one game so far by a margin of at least three goals.
Until the team starts showing more signs of what a Stanley Cup contender should look like, it’s fair to be cautiously optimistic.
Skeptical on the status
The most popular answer was being skeptical about the Flames contending, getting 37.2% of votes. This is honestly fair too. It’s hard to look around the league and how other teams are doing this season and labelling the Flames as a contender right now. They’re in a hole they’ve dug for themselves and climbing out while other teams are pulling ahead makes it all the more difficult.
Other teams are surging and are actually showing some pretty complete on-ice products—something the Flames haven’t quite done just yet. The Flames have struggled to string together complete 60 minute games. The losing streak consisted of many blown leads, and unlucky goaltending was also a major factor.
These types of performances aren’t exactly inspiring and being skeptical on how far the Flames can go isn’t necessarily out of the question at all, as shown by the number of votes.
Playoffs should still be in sight
The least popular option, losing their playoff status completely only warranted 11.2% of votes. By and large, the fanbase still believes the Flames are a playoff team at worst. There’s simply too much talent on the roster to completely falter by season’s end. However, it’s still possible. The early season performances of the forwards have not been great outside of Nazem Kadri. The defence corps is running into issues in even staying healthy, and the goalies are just not at the top of their game.
Even great teams in the league can have hubris be their downfall. A few years ago the Flames didn’t protect their first-round draft pick they sent to the New York Islanders to acquire Travis Hamonic, and that ended up costing them the 12th overall pick (Noah Dobson). The Flames expected that pick to be in the second half of the first round, but it ended up costing them high-end talent right off the bat.
This season, you’d hope the Flames would be smarter in tempering expectations, and head coach Darryl Sutter will tout again and again that the number one goal is to get into the playoffs. That shouldn’t change with a losing streak.
How has the losing streak affected your outlook on the Flames? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire
You must be logged in to post a comment.