CALGARY — The Calgary Flames have struggled this season and general manager Brad Treliving said he knows why.
“If you had an identity for our team, we’re an inconsistent team,” Treliving said in comments published by Sportsnet on Thursday. “That’s not usually the identity you draw up. When I say inconsistency, I’m talking about the highs and the lows. You’re not going to have your ‘A’ game every night. Good teams have a good ‘B’ game where they can have success some nights, playing air-tight defensively and being good on special teams. Our problem is we’ve got an ‘A’ game and a ‘D’ game.”
The Flames, who host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN5, RDS2, NHL.TV), are fifth in the Scotia North Division with a 10-11-2 record. They trail the Montreal Canadiens by three points for fourth with two more games played. The top four teams in each division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Calgary is 3-6-1 in its past 10 games entering Wednesday, including two losses to the last-place Senators, and has not won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak from Feb. 6-11. Treliving said he knows the fan base is unhappy with the Flames’ results this season.
“We’re not spending a whole lot of time on what the white noise is, but I get it — everybody is up in arms,” Treliving said. “When you don’t perform, there are consequences. Everyone should be taking shots at you. Enough of the preaching, it all comes down to actions, not sucking your thumb and … moaning. Our players have got to be better — all of us have to be better. It’s easy to point fingers. That doesn’t help us get to where we need to be.”
Calgary, which reached the Western Conference First Round last season after defeating the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, entered this season with high expectations after signing goalie Jacob Markstrom to a six-year contract and defenseman Christopher Tanev to a four-year contract.
But the Flames have allowed 24 first-period goals, tied for fourth-most in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings, and have eight losses when trailing after the first period, tied for the third-most in the NHL.
“I want to be hard to play against, hard-working, physical, tight-checking and have the skill and the ability to generate offense,” Treliving said.
“Have we played to that identity? No. At points, yes.”
Treliving said he doesn’t expect perfection, but the level of play needs to get better.
“We haven’t seen the ‘A’ game nearly enough … and then we have ‘D’ games,” Treliving said. “We see it within games, too, playing well one period and then drastically outplayed the next.
“There’s going to be ebbs and flows. You’re in a good division, you’re not going to dominate. You’ve got a find a ‘B’ game.”
Treliving said it’s up to the Flames players to turn their season around.
“I don’t know what waiting for something to happen means,” he said. “Your job is your job. Do it to the best of your ability and it’s amazing how things can change.”