Despite the loss in the Battle of Alberta, there are a lot of positives for the Flames

CALGARY – Don’t try to tell an Albertan it’s a good thing if their team loses the provincial rivalry.

But much of what transpired at the Saddledome on Saturday in Calgary’s 4-2 loss to the Oilers falls into the category of exactly what Flames fans should pay attention to as the team plays its magic:

First they lost.

The Flames now sit at No. 25Th Overall, they were only seven teams ahead of them in the draft lottery with six games remaining.

The Kraken are four points ahead of the Flames and leave Calgary a comfortable distance behind.

It would take quite a facelift to get past Ottawa or Montreal, who are three points behind Calgary, but considering the Flames have now lost eight of their last nine, anything is possible.

Secondly, they played well.

No one in the locker room was happy with the result, but the performance was there in a game in which the Flames rallied from a 2-0 deficit and tied the game with their second power play goal early in the third period.

With most games over for the new-look Flames lately, the Oilers found a way to score the game-winner with ten minutes left when Evan Bouchard’s bomb from the point hit the top of the field.

Jonathan Huberdeau was right after and said the Flames were the better team.

Third, Yegor Sharangovich broke the 30-goal mark.

Ten games into the season, the young Belarusian, brought in for Tyler Toffoli, found himself on the fourth line as the winger and coaches couldn’t figure out where he fit best.

Now their leading scorer, he’s such a defensive and versatile player that he excelled as a top center after Elias Lindholm’s move.

He thinks about it so well that on Saturday, when Connor McDavid was in town, the Flames realigned their ranks to put the slick Sharangovich on Mikael Backlund’s line with Blake Coleman expressly to help get the best Eliminate players in the world.

“What he’s done is a really good job of playing confidently on both sides of the puck,” said Ryan Huska, who has used Sharangovich to assist on the power play and his penalty kill.

“Now he knows he can make the difference on any given night and we see that most nights. We’re really happy with what he’s done.”

Fourth, Connor ZaryThe debut as a center was a success.

With a desire to shift Sharangovich to Backlund’s line, the Flames needed a center and chose Zary’s return to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch to give him that job.

“Connor is a centerman,” said Huska, who started the game while Zary secured the tie between Huberdeau and Dryden Hunt.

“He hasn’t played there all year and after missing a game it was a big challenge for him, but I thought he did a really good job there.

This is where he will ultimately end up, and the coaches have already discussed the possibility of trying him out there.

Will he stay there for the rest of the season?

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Huska said.

“That is an option for us.

“He was a lot better tonight.

“You noticed him tonight, he was back to normal. And that’s what we want to continue to see from him.

“Whether it was because he got a little boost from playing center or whether he just wanted to get back to his normal self after missing a game, I don’t know.”

When asked about his general mindset regarding the possibility of rotating him from wing to center, Huska shared interesting insights.

“I think one of the toughest jobs in the NHL is being a young interior defender,” said the coach, who saw Zary play over 16 minutes, have three shots on goal and move the puck effectively on the power play.

“And I think that’s why you often see the high draft picks that break into the NHL are often put on the wing because it’s hard. They have to lift a lot of heavy weights deep in their own zone and their body is not physically ready for it.

“Connor has played professionally for several years now so we think he can handle it.

“But I don’t think tossing a man back and forth is a problem.”

We’ll see where he plays next week when the Flames visit all three California clubs.

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