The Calgary Flames continue to languish near the bottom of the standings in the ultra-tough Western conference, however it definitely isn’t from a lack of trying. The team delivers an honest effort night-in and night-out but are continually coming up just short. The latest example of their no-quit attitude came in a 4-3 road loss to the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens soared to a 4-1 lead in the second period and there was the sense that the rout might be on. However, the Flames who have rarely been on the receiving end of a blowout defeat this season, would respond with goals from Mike Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler to give the Pens all they could handle right to the bitter end. Once again, Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby delivered a strong performance against the Flames with a goal and two assists.
The Flames dropped their fourth- straight contest in wrapping up a difficult road trip that had begun on a positive note with a 2-1 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres. The game marked the 24th time this season that they have been involved in a one-goal affair. While their record of 13-17-6 is not what the club had hoped for, there have been very few nights where the team hasn’t provided an honest effort.
The Flames did get more bad news on the injury front as Curtis Glencross sustained an apparent knee injury in the opening moments of the contest. It’s another injury blow for the veteran forward who had missed previous time due to an MCL sprain. He’s appeared in just 21 games this season producing six goals and six assists. To make matters worse, the Flames also saw defenseman Kris Russell leave in the third period with a lower body injury. Russell has had a tremendous career revival in his first season with the Flames accumulating four goals and 12 assists while receiving plenty of ice time.
Despite the gloom and doom there have been a couple of positives. Paul Byron has been making the most of his latest recall from the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. The speedy forward has produced two goals and three assists in his last six games. Another encouraging sign was a productive road trip for Mikael Backlund who netted a pair of goals during the five-game trek. He appeared to be playing with added confidence, had a better all-around game, and even added some feistiness to the mix.
While the team under the guidance of head coach Bob Hartley is having a hard-time producing victories these days, this group is actually a likable one due to their compete level. They truly never stop trying to win. However the lack of depth and scoring punch seems to be the deciding factor in so many of these close encounters.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports