TORONTO, ON -- It is fair to say that former Leafs Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman haven't had the easiest go of it over the past year.
Both forwards had their offensive totals plummet in the 2010-11 campaign. Hagman posted 11 goals through 71 contests - a 14 goal decrease from the previous year - while Stajan mustered just six tallies in 76 games. Their lackluster play saw them both demoted on the the depth chart and at one point, Hagman was put on waivers and went unclaimed.
There were a few bright spots for the two, however, and they both shone when playing against Toronto last year. Stajan managed a goal and an assist in two games against his old club. Hagman picked up four points against the Leafs in the two contests.
That success could be attributed to the fact that players want to play extremely well against their former teams in order to demonstrate what they missed out on by trading them. It becomes a matter of personal pride in addition to the drive to be successful as a team.
"I wouldn't say revenge but there is a lot of guys I played with and there's the old coach. Obviously I want to show them that I can play," Hagman said after the Flames practice on Friday. "We don't come here that often so for sure I want to play well."
Stajan and Hagman are coming into Saturday's game on the upswing. Hagman scored his first goal of the season in the Flames 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night and is feeling very good about his overall game.
"It's nice to get the first one," he smiled. "I've had some chances and I wasn't worried it's not going to go in. I've felt pretty good. But, I have to admit, to get the first one feels good."
Stajan picked up his first point in the victory when he assisted on Rene Bourque's second period goal. The pivot, who had been toiling away on the fourth line during the exhibition and to start the regular season, has been shuffled up to center Bourque and Hagman over the past two tilts.
That show of support from the coaching staff has helped boost Stajan's spirits and keep him confident about his skill set.
"You want to get opportunity and when you get it, you want to make the most of it. There's no doubt about it. If you talked to any player in the League, that's what they want. All you can do is work hard and take advantage of the opportunities that you're given, in anything you do.
"I'm just going to keep working and build some chemistry with Hags and Bourquey. Hopefully we can be difference makers in a lot of games this year."
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