The National Hockey League’s two Alberta-based franchises are off to horrific starts to the 2023-24 campaign. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have won a combined three games in 15 tries, and both teams continue to reel in the Pacific Division.
The Flames lost their fourth straight on Thursday night after being shutout 3-0 by Joel Hofer and the St. Louis Blues at home. Calgary D-man Nikita Zadorov didn’t mince words in the post-game press conference.
“I just want to apologize to our fans, we’re playing like s**t right now,” Zadorov said, according to The Athletic’s Julian McKenzie.
The team was booed throughout the game by the home crowd at the Saddledome, who are clearly fed up with the 2-5-1 Flames after yet another loss.
“I would have booed too if I saw the way we played,” center Elias Lindholm admitted.
“We weren’t broken, we just sucked,” echoed head coach Ryan Huska.
Not only were the Flames beaten, they were thoroughly outplayed by the Blues in the contest. Although the shots were relatively close at 35-27 for St. Louis, they also owned 55.26 percent of scoring chances and 56.43 percent of expected goals at five-on-five, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Things looked to be in good shape to start the season; the Flames won two of the first four, including a convincing 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. But mired in the current skid, Calgary has fallen to sixth in the Pacific Division, scoring only 2.43 goals per game. That ranks 27th in the NHL.
The Heritage Classic between the Flames and Oilers on Sunday will certainly have less lustre after the way these two teams are playing, but only one of them can be losers of five games in a row.
We’ll find that out at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.