Winning ugly: Better than not winning at all

This season, I’ve convinced myself I know whether the Flames are capable of winning a game by five minutes in. I have no proof of this, but this seems like the least adaptable team I can remember, at least in short-term situations. They come out a certain way, and against even mid-level teams have not shown the capability to make in-game adjustments. In the worst examples, their newfound abundance of talent puts them in an improbably beneficial situation — say, the 2-0 and 4-2 leads against Colorado in Game 1 of 3 last week — and somehow, Iggy or Playfair or somebody can’t say, “Boys, we’re luckier than the Penguins on draft lottery day here — time to play like we did against Atlanta.” Voila, 7-5 loss.

Stats alone, the Flames have won plenty of games this season that they haven’t “deserved” — they’re 17-16-6 in games they’re outshot. But from another statistical point-of-view, that hasn’t been the case. They’ve only won two games all season when trailing after two periods. They’re 2-15-4 in that situation — 23rd in the NHL. (By comparison, Detroit’s first in the league, pulling off eight wins when trailing after two (8-12-1), and Vancouver is 4-13-1, good for sixth.

And anecdotally, it seems to me that in games where they’re outplayed, even if it isn’t for an entire game, they haven’t found ways to pull through. It’s worrisome, because come playoff time you have to win games you have no business winning to make a real run — Carolina won three times when trailing after two during last year’s playoffs.

Which brings us to tomorrow, and Game 3 of this weird three-game series with the Avalanche. (Colorado took a break from Calgary to lose to Vancouver on Sunday, seemingly intent on screwing with the Flames’ chances at first in any way possible.) I have no particular dream that, in just a week, Playfair will have taught his team that ice is frozen the same way in rinks all across the NHL, so they can go ahead and skate the same way outside Calgary as when they’re at home. So I expect they’ll come out tentative … but at this point of the season, their best players are going to have to find a way to overcome that, and pull out a win whether they deserve it or not. ‘Cause for some reason, eight games under .500 on the road just seems a hell of a lot worse than seven.

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~ by duncan on February 19, 2007.

One Response to “Winning ugly: Better than not winning at all”

  1. […] the play for most of the game, I wouldn’t exactly call that another gear. But I would call it winning ugly, so that’s a somewhat pleasant step forward. I’m a believer that in the end, all that […]

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