It might not be a stat that means much of anything, truly.
But the Calgary Flames haven’t won a single game when they’re trailing after two periods this season.
They’re the only team in the NHL that hasn’t overcome a deficit at second intermission and emerged as the winner at the end of the game. Their record when trailing after two periods is 0-11-2.
Obviously, that doesn’t look great.
It’s just not something that seems to be keeping Flames head coach Darryl Sutter up at night.
“I think we’ve come from behind, I don’t think it’s just based on periods and I think that’s also a historical stat,” Sutter said. “There’s really not much relevance to that this year. That’s a stat that’s like a double-figure-to-zero number a lot.”
Sutter does have a point.
It’s not like teams that are constantly overturning third-period deficits are the cream-of-the-NHL crop this season.
The Anaheim Ducks lead the NHL in wins when they’re trailing after two periods, with six. The Ducks have the third-least points in the entire NHL right now.
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The Vancouver Canucks also have six. They’re in the bottom-five in the Western Conference.
So while the fact that the Flames haven’t won a single game in which they’ve been behind after 40 minutes doesn’t look great, it’s probably more relevant that they’ve only been in that position going into a third period 13 times.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been down after 40 minutes only nine times, while the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins have been in that position 13 times, same as the Flames.
All three of those teams happen to be leading their divisions and the Bruins have been by-far the best team in the NHL this season, so despite whatever inconsistencies may have plagued the Flames this season, at least they’re in elite company there.
“I think it’s better to, earlier in the game, not get in that position,” Dube said. “I think we’ve found ourselves trying to chase the game in the third period from not being ready at some points. When we’re winning hockey games, we have the lead early and are able to play the right way from there on.
“I think a lot of it starts from the first couple shifts of the game.”
Scoring first does seem to be important for the Flames – and just about every other team around the league. They’re 19-6-4 this season when they’ve scored the first goal and are 6-12-7 when their opponent has done the same.
But ideally, the Flames would like to feel like they can come from behind when trailing after two periods and actually win a game. Of course they would. Again, on paper, not having a single third-period comeback win doesn’t look awesome, even if it isn’t nearly as significant as it initially appears.
They’re not panicking about it and aren’t going to try to re-invent the wheel in an effort to suddenly start storming to victory whenever they’re down after 40 minutes. That won’t work. They know that.
“I’m not sure, we’ve had a lot of those games where we’re down a goal and are in real-tight games and haven’t quite found a way to push through and get that extra goal,” said Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin. “I think it’s just staying resilient and staying with it and not forcing things, I think when we play just the way we’ve gotta play and execute well, we get those chances but when we kind of force things, we get a little sloppy. So just have to stick with it.
“For me, in my career, we’ve definitely been in a lot of one-goal games, overtime games, they’re all right there, so we’ve just got to find a way to get over that hump.”
The Flames weren’t thrilled with the way they played in Detroit in their 2-1 loss against the Red Wings last week.
Their game at Madison Square Garden was a thrill, but they would have liked a better result against the New York Rangers than an overtime loss.
The NHL schedule-makers, though, were nice enough to give the Flames an opportunity to avenge both defeats quickly, though, with the Red Wings up on Thursday and the Rangers on Saturday, both at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“For sure, obviously both those games, I think the New York was obviously a battle and we’d like to get a win over that team, but tomorrow we’ve got Detroit,” Hanifin said. “There are definitely areas we can be better against Dertoit. We only had one goal and I think we want to get the score up a little bit more and create more offence.”
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