ST. LOUIS, MO -- As they head back over the Canadian border on Tuesday, the Calgary Flames have a lot on their minds.
They currently are 0-2-0 and that record sits squarely on their shoulders after what can only be called back-to-back lackluster performances. The other teams didn't defeat them - they defeated themselves.
"I don't know what to say, honestly," Alex Tanguay said softly, shaking his head. "We played two terrible games to start the season. Both of them were terrible and this is not who we feel we are."
Against both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues, the Flames came out flying. They were checking everyone in sight. They were relentless on the puck. Their forecheck looked absolutely ferocious. They were shooting every chance they got.
Then, after scoring the opening goal in both tilts, they seemed to fall apart. Instead of looking to advance those leads, they sat back. They looked lifeless. They let the other team decide what pace they were going to play at.
"We knew they'd be desperate tonight," captain Jarome Iginla said after the 5-2 loss in St. Louis. "They beat us just because they worked harder. It wasn't any one system or whatever. It was they worked harder tonight than we did."
The second and third periods have been especially tough for the team. In Calgary on Saturday night, Pittsburgh scored four goals on the gobsmacked club in the second stanza. In St. Louis, the Blues held them to a mere two shots on net in the final twenty minutes.
"There was no finished checks," head coach Brent Sutter said after the game against the Blues. "We never dictated the way we wanted to play the game along the boards. There was a lot of swooping. We played with long sticks.
"When we play a lunch bucket type game and we keep the game simple and we do it the right way, we play well. We're an effective team. We have guys right now that feel 'skill, skill, skill' but we've got to get into those tough areas. We've got to win battles."
The team has two days before they suit up against the Montreal Canadiens and Tanguay said the entire club will be using the time off to regroup. He noted the team needs to put the two losses behind them to focus on the upcoming tasks in Montreal in Toronto but they do need to remember the emotions that swept over them after each defeat.
"We've got to be better than this. This is unacceptable."
Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson