Calgary Flames frustrated by ‘horrible’ performance against Anaheim Ducks

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Losses are one thing.

But another loss wasn’t what bothered MacKenzie Weegar Tuesday night.

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It was the performance that the Calgary Flames put forth against the Anaheim Ducks.

Losing is always going to hurt, but it’s usually a little less painful for a team if it played the way it intended.

And on Tuesday night, the Flames fell well short of the standard they are trying to set in their final stretch of games this season. Head coach Ryan Huska called it “horrible.” Captain Mikael Backlund looked frustrated as he spoke to the media after the match.

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And Weegar admitted he couldn’t fully understand the Flames’ effort at the Saddledome.

“For the rest of the year we just have to recover and start playing for each other,” the defenseman said. “I don’t care if we lose the next eight games, (we have to) come to battle and work for each other.”

It’s hard not to feel a little bad for the Flames’ veterans navigating this challenging season.

They have been out of playoff contention for a while and have seen some of their most important players traded during the season so the team could avoid losing them for nothing in free agency.

Calgary Flames vs. Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom defends against Anaheim Ducks forward Brett Leason at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /postmedia

However, for the most part, they have continued to work hard and there doesn’t seem to be the same darkness surrounding the locker room that was evident to anyone towards the end of last season.

But there is frustration and it is not exclusively about the results.

The Flames have lost nine of their last 12 games, but it’s the inconsistency that really bothers players.

How could they go out and play one of their best games of the season on Saturday night against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Kings and then fall so flat against the nowhere-going Ducks three nights in? after?

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“We did it to a playoff team last game. I don’t know why he turned around so quickly like that. It’s weird and I don’t understand it,” Weegar said. “I think when we play our best, we are structured. We execute the right way.

“As a striker or even a defender, if you see that there is an opportunity to find a breakaway or stretch the zone a little bit, make those defenders drop back, of course you can take a page from that. But for the most part, for 60 minutes you just want to play structured hockey.”

That will be one of the focuses between now and April 18, when the Flames conclude their regular season against the San Jose Sharks.

Of course, they want to win some of the remaining eight games, but there has been a constant conversation about setting standards and holding everyone to them, even if the playoffs are no longer a possibility.

What are those standards? Well, being prepared to drop the puck and work hard for a full 60 minutes are high on the list of things the Flames want to establish as part of their identity.

Calgary Flames vs. Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames forward Andrei Kuzmenko celebrates a goal against Anaheim Ducks goaltender Lukas Dostal at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /postmedia

So while a meaningless game on Tuesday night against another non-playoff team really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, putting in a more well-rounded effort is important for the Flames. Of great importance.

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“All we can control is our performance and how we approach games and how we play,” Backlund said. “If we play the right way and play hard, the results will come, but the only thing we can focus on is how we approach the games and how we perform.”

And that’s exactly what the Flames do on Wednesday as they return to the practice ice before a quick trip to Winnipeg for a game against the Jets on Thursday night. They have a Battle of Alberta at the Saddledome on Saturday and if there’s any game you’d expect to be easy to prepare for, it’s one against the Edmonton Oilers.

And then they will have half a dozen games before the start of a long summer.

None of those matchups will count for anything in the playoff race, but the Flames still swear there are things they can accomplish. That is, they can begin to establish a culture in which everyone is prepared to work tirelessly for the guy sitting next to them in the locker room.

“I mean, at the end of the day we’re just competitors,” Weegar said. “Every day I find motivation to come play the best game in the world, that is not taken for granted here. I don’t think anyone does.

“It’s those things that make you get back on the court and want to play the best you can, it’s for the next guy next to you. “We have come so far, a lot of relationships were built this season and it is that passion that you bring to the court every day.”

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