The Calgary Flames did not qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but looking back at their season they absolutely should have.
Not just because of the talent of the roster and heightened expectations, but they literally had so many games in the palm of their hands that they just let slip away. You probably couldn’t name two games that the Flames won that they probably should have lost. But taking a look at the number of games that they lost they instead should have absolutely won, the number is staggering.
The team missed the playoffs by three points, accounting for the Winnipeg Jets holding the tie break, and let’s just say it’s embarrassing that they couldn’t have found those three points in a sea of disappointing losses.
We thought it would be “fun” to take a trip down memory lane, on the way to Pain Station, to see the top 10 worst losses the Flames suffered this season that could have absolutely changed this organization’s fate:
The worst Flames losses of the season
November 1, 2022 – Seattle 5, Calgary 4
This was the first game the cracks started to show.
After coughing up a third period lead to the Edmonton Oilers—one that included a Jacob Markstom goaltending gaffe—the very next game the Flames would storm out to a 4–2 lead just two minutes into the third period.
They then would surrender three goals in just under five minutes to lose the game in regulation 5–4. They were completely dominating the Kraken during the third period and let one goal completely rattle their confidence. This should have been an automatic two points.
November 7, 2022 – Calgary 3, New York Islanders 4 OT
Three games after the Seattle loss, and having then lost four games in a row, the Flames’ woes would continue against the Isles. In a game where they looked to have their mojo back, going into the third period with a 3–1 lead, the Flames would surrender two quick goals in the final ten minutes of the third period.
Two goals in 59 seconds to be exact.
They would go on to lose the game in overtime on a penalty kill situation—a frequent theme during this season—and only secure one single point.
December 1, 2022 – Montreal 2, Calgary 1
This was the first of many losses during the 2022–23 season to a bottom-ranked team. On Sean Monahan’s return to Calgary night, the Flames would give up one of the worst goals of the season on another Markstrom gaffe just 13 seconds into the game.
The Flames would tie the game up late in the second period, but give up a third period power play goal to lose 2–1 in regulation. Monahan had two points in what unfortunately would be his final game of his season after suffering yet more injuries.
If Monahan’s dagger performance wasn’t enough, Jake Allen who had been reeling entering the contest made 45 of 46 saves putting in a ridiculous performance to deny Calgary two easy points.
December 9, 2022 – Calgary 1, Columbus 3
In the Flames first meeting with Johnny Gaudreau they put up one of the worst performances of the year. Columbus was one of the worst teams in the NHL at the time and the Flames ended up taking them for granted.
Darryl Sutter presumed that they spent too much time visiting and being friends with Gaudreau the night before, but the Flames just simply never made the flight to Columbus.
The Blue Jackets even had both goaltenders play, but the Flames couldn’t get more than one goal past them.
January 26, 2023 – Chicago 5, Calgary 1
If you thought the Columbus performance was bad, the outing against Chicago was even worse. Although Jonathan Hubereau scored his most highlight reel worthy goal of the season that night, the Flames got completely ran over by the bottom-feeding team from Chicago.
They also got stymied by Jaxon Stauber, who made 34 of 35 saves that night.
Coming off a blowout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the overtime thriller in Gaudreau’s homecoming, this was absolutely one of the biggest let downs of the season.
February 13, 2023 – Calgary 3, Ottawa 4 OT
Here is where the pain truly begins.
The Flames were reeling a bit after the All-Star Break, but went into Buffalo and completely blew the Sabres out of the water 7–2. That win should have sent them down the right path.
The next game looked to be going that way with the Flames up 3–1 against the Senators with just under 2:30 to go in the game.
Of course, with the goalie pulled the Senators would score two goals in just 45 seconds to tie the game at three. The Flames simply had nothing left in their sails and pretty much handed the victory to the Senators in overtime. Tim Stutzle was unbelievable, not taking away anything from his performance, but the two points slipped away from Calgary.
February 20, 2023 – Philadelphia 4, Calgary 3
After the seesaw road trip, and then two Jekyl and Hyde performances on home ice against the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, the Flames looked to be righting the ship slightly.
They then faced the Philadelphia Flyers, a bottom-tier team, and their third string goalie in Samuel Ersson. You know where this is going.
The Flames were down 3–1 going into the third period, but for once actually managed to stage a comeback to tie it at three. That didn’t last long though, as the team would give up a strange goal that bounced off of MacKenzie Weegar’s skate to land on Wade Allison’s stick, combined with Nikita Zadorov leaving his post to go for a big open ice hit.
It was a cornucopia of errors that summed up the Flames’ season.
February 23, 2023 – Calgary 3, Vegas Golden Knights 4 OT
Just two games after the Flyers loss, the Flames took a carbon copy of the Senators game and posted it in Vegas.
Up 3–1 going into the final frame, the Flames coughed up the lead and then lost in overtime. They were on pace to win their first game in Vegas and simply just crumbled again.
February 28, 2023 – Boston 4, Calgary 3 OT
This was a game the Flames simply deserved more than the rest. Against the best team in the NHL, the Flames put everything into their performance.
They stormed back to take the lead in the third period, they got 57 shots on net against Linus Ullmark, and just simply got unlucky with a late overtime goal against.
This should have been a game where the Flames could have taken the momentum into the trade deadline and final month of the season but were left wondering “what happened?”
April 5, 2023 – Chicago 4, Calgary 3
Easily the biggest whiff of the year, the Flames had the opportunity to put some major pressure on the Winnipeg Jets in the wild-card race. On the heels of a four-game winning streak—their longest of the season—the Flames were at home against the league-worst team from Chicago again.
They lost in regulation.
What makes this game so brutal is that the very next outing they would beat the Jets in regulation to tie them in points. They could have been two points up and given them a real shot at the playoffs, but they simply shot themselves in the foot yet again.
What could have been
Looking at these losses, there are an easy 16 points the team could have had during the season. They only needed three to pass the Jets.
They simply could have won two of these games and made the playoffs, but since they didn’t. they have now lost their general manager and are now heading in a new organizational direction. Truly worst case scenario for the Calgary Flames.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire