CALGARY — Talk around the city suggests the Flames’ 9-1 loss Monday in San Jose represents not only the lowest point of the season but of the Darryl Sutter era.
Understandably, the sting of an eight-goal loss has sparked outrageous trade talk and furious finger-pointing.
However, in the interest of being fair, might I be the one to inject a little perspective to the mix?
Oh sure … you know you’ve had a bad night when the crowd ends the evening with the unique chant, “We want 10!”
But the fact remains there were plenty of positives in a game that many have been overlooking.
To follow is a list of, well, nine encouraging signs from San Jose Flames fans ought to keep in mind as they look for bridges to jump off of:
1. Everyone in the rink got free pizza after the Sharks scored their fourth goal. (No word on whether they got a second pizza after eight.)
2. The Flames managed to keep four Sharks skaters off the scoresheet, including former three-goal scorer Jody Shelley.
3. Brent Sutter kept alive his season-long streak of never having smiled while behind the Flames bench.
4. Brian McGrattan managed to practise his crossovers with a season-high 7:55 of ice time, setting him up for a big second-half surge.
5. Only eight Sharks were able to beat Flames goalies, and only 14 players had points on the night.
6. After going 141 straight games without finding the net, Robyn Regehr turned it all around and is now on a season-high, one-game goal-scoring streak.
7. The Flames helped elevate the confidence of Taber product Devin Setoguchi and former Flames winger Scott Nichol, whose three points helped him crack the 100-point mark in just his 16th season as a pro.
8. During the first four minutes, a tenacious Flames club was able to do a good job keeping a squad with four Canadian Olympians in check.
9. Sun hockey scribe Steve Macfarlane was easily able to fill out the Flames’ report card with straight F’s in everything from goaltending and defence to effort and attitude. Perhaps the best part of all for the Flames is the loss sets the bar so low that no matter how badly they lose to the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday it couldn’t possibly be worse than 9-1.
Given the Flames are on a five-game losing skid that recently saw them take seven games to eclipse the nine-goal mark the Sharks hit in 60 minutes, would it be considered a step forward if the Flames only lose 6-1 Thursday?
After all, the last time they met, the Blackhawks won 7-1 as part of a series the Flames have proven conclusively they can’t win.
In the six-goal loss, the Flames drew inspiration from the fact they kept five ’Hawks off the scoresheet completely, Curtis McElhinney padded his resume with a 20-minute effort, and the team held the ’Hawks to just one goal in each of the first and third periods.
They used those baby steps to rebound in a big way, grabbing 11 of a possible 12 points in the following week-and-a-half of the schedule.
So, in short, there’s plenty of hope.
It all depends how you look at it.
OK, so maybe not much hope for the game against the Blackhawks.
But soon thereafter, things are bound to start looking up.