Turns out you can quantify effort.
In the aftermath of last night's 3-2 defeat to the St. Louis Blues, Flames head coach Mike Keenan had the proof in black and white.
"Probably the most telling stat for me tonight, and it is a compliment of the effort of all the players on St. Louis' side, is they had 24 blocked shots to our six," Keenan said. "If you look at that statistic, it's pretty telling about A) their effort, and B) their desperation to win a game.
"I think they came out with that determination certainly in the third period when we had taken the momentum of the game away from them. They established their game and pushed us out of our game."
Pushed the Flames out of their game and, maybe before they finally pull out of their skid, out of first place in the Northwest Division.
Just as the Flames appeared headed for another win to earn a little more space between themselves and the Vancouver Canucks, Andy McDonald and Jay McClement stunned them with goals 51 seconds apart midway through the third period.
Calgary has now dropped five of seven outings and has just a three-point lead on Vancouver in the Northwest chase. Only a few weeks ago, they had a double-digit lead on the Canucks, who have a game in hand, too.
"This is a results-oriented game," said Keenan, who was doing his best to keep his emotions in check. "We've earned our points, and Vancouver is on a roll and earned their points. We had a chance to gap them again, it was right there in our own building with a 2-1 lead, and we didn't seize the opportunity.
"That has to be addressed."
Make certain it will be addressed. What can't be guaranteed is whether the Flames will be able to recover and maintain their hold on the perch that comes with home-ice advantage in the opening around of the playoffs.
As much as the Blues deserve full credit for hanging tough through a one-sided middle period in which Calgary dominated to take the lead, the Flames have to take blame.
The urgency their opposition showed to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat has been sorely lacking through their freefall.
Keenan said it shouldn't be difficult for his charges to find some desperation to put in their game.
"Look at the standings. That should be good enough," he said succinctly.
Until the middle of the period, it appeared the Flames were on their way to a second consecutive win thanks to a dominating start to the second period. Through the first eight minutes of the middle frame, Calgary fired 17 shots on net, including goals by Michael Cammalleri and Dustin Boyd to make it a 2-1 count.
But they almost immediately lost the momentum, and never managed to retrieve it.
Instead of celebrating, the Flames spent their post-game trying to figure out what happened.
"It doesn't feel too good," said Cammalleri, whose goal was a career-high 35th. "Right now, it's pretty fresh and we're pretty upset we didn't get the win tonight."
T.J. Oshie also scored for St. Louis. The Blues are just 2-15-1 in its last 18 games with the Flames.
Calgary plays host to the Detroit Red Wings Monday.