| April 7, 2010 |
|Tough day |
The morning after the Calgary Flames were officially eliminated from the postseason race, the mood around the locker room was one of disappointment and regret but players said they were trying to push past the tough morning and look at winning the last two games in the regular season.
"It's disappointing," Jay Bouwmeester sighed. "Any time you're on the outside looking in, it's never where anybody wants to be, that's common sense.
"Today's a tough day but we've got two games left. You've got to save a little face and you have to play the games. Might as well try to win them."
Bouwmeester noted that while it was pointless to look back at what went wrong in the season, it's inevitable that players will review their season to see what moments and stretches affected their drive for their playoffs.
"You look back at a whole lot of games where you had opportunities or games that were there for you that you didn't win. Any team, when you don't make the playoffs or finish as high as you want to, that's the case. Looking back, there's always games. That's why you say right from the start of the year that every game is big. You see how close everything is when (the season) finishes up now, it's true."
Eric Nystrom said that while there were several factors that played into the early end to the Flames season, the nine-game losing streak from Jan. 11 to Jan. 28 could be pinpointed as the turning point to the campaign.
"We missed the playoffs by a couple points. You win three of those games and you're still looking at a chance of making the playoffs," he stated. "You lose nine straight in the middle of your season, it's going to hurt you a lot. That was obviously a key. But we had chances to get back in it and we just didn't capitalize on it. That's why after these next few games, we're done."
Matt Stajan, who recently signed a long-term contract extension with the Flames, believes his club can turn the ship around next season.
"We've got a lot of really good players in here, great pieces and a good group that gets along in here. It's just a matter of putting it together and it didn't work out here in the last 20 games," he said.
"We did play some good hockey but at the same time, we expected more. I think, no doubt, if we had a group like this, with the talent in here, at the start of the season, it's going to work. That's not up to us to decide. We just have to take care of ourselves here and finish the way we need to."
Veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr agreed with Nystrom's assessment.
"There's so many things that have a factor in there. Whether you have a hot power play or a really good penalty kill - that can be the swing of one goal for or against that makes the difference in the game. I think we did struggle to score during that slump there but there's a whole bunch of things. That's the thing - it's easy just to pinpoint one thing but the result was not being able to win for nine games and that's one of the reason why we're not in the playoffs."
He added the team needs to find a balance defensively and offensively next season.
"A couple years ago we were right up there for goals for but just really, really struggled in the past years in giving up too many chances and too many goals against. That's something we talked about at the start of the year quite at length about. We were better but I don't know, for whatever reason, we really struggled, especially at key points of the season offensively. It cost us hockey games."
Weathering the media storm
After the loss to the Sharks on Tuesday night, media outlets both locally and nationally suggested that major changes in both the Flames locker room and adminstrative staff needed to happen in order for the team to move forward. Captain Jarome Iginla has been the main target with many speculating he would be the first player to be moved.
He faced the media on Wednesday morning, addressing that very topic, stating that he was very happy in the city and was committed to staying in Calgary and helping the team win.
"I want to be here. Not just because it's comfortable or a nice city or the fans are into it but because I think we can win."
Iginla also said that he doesn't think the entire needs to be "blown up" and be completely rebuilt.
"I don't believe that. The ownership and the organization and Darryl will make their decision and we know, as players, at the end of the year, when you don't get things done that's part of it. It's tough times.
"I'm not just standing here today being optimistic or positive. Guys are committed on the defensive side. We're going to have to find ways to be better the other way and you can do both. Look at the top teams - they do both. We haven't. Teams that were out ... Vancouver was out two years ago and they're a pretty good team now. They've won two divisions after being out and they didn't totally blow it up. I believe we can do that too. But I'm sure there will be a lot of the team looking at what they want to do."
Regehr said that change is inevitable, not matter what a team's record is, but he feels the blame should be placed soley on the players and not the administration or coaching staff.
"It won't be the same team. It never is, especially when you don't reach the goal that you have. For us, that responsibility falls on the players. We have a very good coaching staff, one that I thought worked very well together and did a pretty good job. For us as players, we had a disappointing year and didn't meet those goals and whenever that happens, usually something happens.
"For us, you have to look at the team. You have to look at the way things went. I don't think we're that far off ... we need to find that happy medium where we're being responsible defensively but score enough goals to win. I don't think this team is that far off but the bottom line is we didn't get it done. I don't know what going to happen."
David Moss said that it was pointless to concentrate on what may happen over the summer and that players just needed to focus on getting ready for the 2010-11 season.
"Whatever change happens is going to happen and it's the players job to come into the season ready - ready to work."
"I would have liked to score more goals and helped the team win. It was a frustrating year from that standpoint. You look at the games we had ... there were a lot of games that were one-goal games that I could have certainly made a difference and we wouldn't be is this position." - David Moss on his season
"It's awful. It's like anything else - the snowball starts moving downhill and you can't stop it. It just gained momentum and we were maybe trying too hard at times. When you're fighting the puck and things aren't going your way, you just try harder and try harder when you sometimes you just have to take a step back and relax. We got real tense and we were struggling to put pucks in the net and that was a critical point in the season." - Eric Nystrom on the mindset around the locker room during the Flames nine-game losing streak in January
"As players, you don't really look at that. You just take care of what you need to take care of and that's making sure that you make yourself a better player over the summer. Do everything you can to come in next year and help this team and make sure we're not feeling this way this time next year." - Matt Stajan on mindset surrounding the team and possible changes that could be made over the off-season.
"Pro sports is all about winning. That's really what it comes down to. When you don't win, there's things that happen. Whether it's things like guys being moved or changes being made not just with players but with other people." Robyn Regehr
"We're one of the top teams in defense and we're one of the lowest scoring teams in the league in offense. There does have to be a balance there.The top teams that are all in playoffs, they're all pretty potent teams. Nobody's pointing fingers in the room, going 'You have to do this,' and 'You have to do that,.' I know I needed to be better offensively and other guys did too - as a group we needed to be. That's the fact." - Jarome Iginla