Just last week, the Calgary Flames looked like they were in the clear. They were six points up on the Los Angeles Kings with three games in hand and the season winding down.
The Kings however had other things in mind. They beat the Flames 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday night in Calgary and since then have pulled to within three points of the suddenly slumping Flames, with a chance to close within a point in a return match set for Monday night in Hollywood.
Forward Tyler Toffoli says this is a good time for his team to get out on the road, after three narrow losses in a row at home.
“It’s a really good challenge for us. Coming on the road and playing some good teams and trying to get our game back in order.”
DISCONNECTED AT TIMES
It’s not like the Flames have played poorly over the three game stretch. They lost 2-1 to the league leading Colorado Avalanche. 3-2 in a shootout to the Kings and dropped a 4-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Veteran defenceman Michael Stone says at times the Flames have been disconnected on the ice and that leads to the problems.
“When you see us disconnected there’s a breakdown and then somebody else is trying to do the job that you couldn’t do,” Stone said.
“And then it just snowballs from there. So when everybody is on the same page and everybody is getting done what they need to get done, then the game is simple.”
LEADERS HAVE TO LEAD THE WAY
Now is the time the Flames have to rely on their leadership group to help pull them out of this mini-slump. Toffoli says it’s time to get to playing winning hockey.
“We have a lot of guys in the room that have won championships so we just have to sort of lead the way and keep things simple and keep things positive and going in the right direction.”
Toffoli is one of those leaders, who actually won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with the Kings, coached by his current coach Darryl Sutter.
Toffoli says it’s always special to play in L.A.
“Yeah obviously some really good memories and a lot of fun,” Toffoli said.
“I played 500 games or whatever it was here so definitely some good memories but at the same time I haven’t beaten them yet so that’s definitely something on the list here.”
The Flames called up Adam Ruzicka and Juuso Valimaki from Stockton on Monday but it doesn’t look like they’ll be in the lineup tonight..
Here’s a look at the projected lines according to Wes Gilbertson of Postmedia.