| January 19, 2010 |
|Coming home after a rough loss |
After being thumped 9-1 by the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, the Calgary Flames returned to the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday to face the music.
"We're obviously humiliated and embarrassed," Jarome Iginla said. "We know it's embarrassing for our fans too, especially the ones sitting there in the rink, wearing their jerseys on the road. As a team, we're obviously in a tough spot right now, in a tough place. Up until then, though, we thought that we were pushing and getting back in the direction even though we weren't getting results."
An emotional Iginla didn't hold anything back from the media, saying that the team as whole had a horrendous game from top to bottom.
"The whole game, our compete level ... we got down 2-0, 3-0 and they were feeling good. Around the net, we didn't clear pucks out, we didn't clear people out, we didn't compete the way we can. That's the truth. It was a terrible game, all the way around. From the older guys, to the young guys, we were terrible. Our compete level wasn't anywhere where it needed to be. We paid the price for that and got completely beaten, in every part of it."
Opting to hold player-coaches meetings and an off-ice training session instead of hitting the ice, the players went over video from the game last night and discussed what they needed to do turn the ship around.
"We went over a lot of parts of the game and where we're at this point in the season, some things that need to change and better. Today it was mostly coaches talking."
Eric Nystrom said the hardest part of watching tapes from last night was seeing the team put themselves in a corner.
"It's tough when you see that we're beating ourselves up. It's such a fine line between doing things right and wrong and when you're doing wrong against a team like that, they have guys that are going to capitalize. We obviously learned some stuff from them because they just play simple. They put the puck around the net and they go there and battle. We need to start doing that more."
Leadership in question
In a loss like the one in San Jose, many will question the leadership in the locker room. Iginla did not shy away from questions surrounding how he, as a captain, influences the room and how much desire he possesses.
"My desire is there. I know I want to get better and I want to be good for this team and I want to win. As far as the desire, it's there. Unfortunately, the results haven't been there. As far as leadership, that's what happens when you don't win. I can understand when you get on a losing streak. That's part of what goes with it," Iginla said firmly. "I think we have a good team and we have to turn this around. The only thing to answer those questions is how we turn it around as a team. I definitely take responsiblity. In the game yesterday, losing 9-1, as players we didn't have proper preparation as individuals and as a team. There's no excuses for that. The desire part is there.
"The questions about leadership I understand that. We have to prove it on the ice play-wise. I want to get better and I'm going to keep trying to get better. I've been in tough spots before and we've been in tough spots as a team before and we've gotten better and we've risen. I believe we'll do that again."
Iginla said that today was a positive step for his club as it gave them time to address problems they thought needed fixing.
"Today, we got to go over it, hash out a few things and get back at it. I truly believe we will find a way to turn this around and get back winning. Looking back, we're going to I'm sure look at that as a low point, pretty close to rock bottom and it's time to look up again."
Dion Phaneuf also addressed the issue of core leadership.
"We definitely have to step up," he said of the core group, comprised of himself, Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff and Robyn Regehr. "Us, as individuals in that core group, have to be better and we know that."
Phaneuf said the key for the team to pull itself out of the current slump is to stick together.
"At times like this, we have to stick together. That's the main thing. You guys are going to come here and criticize us and nitpick our game, which we deserve. We were not good enough, we have not been good enough and last night was an embarrassment but the thing is we have to stick together as a team. There's no one else that's going to get us out of what we're going through but ourselves.
"As a group, we need to stick together and get out of this together because we got ourselves into it."
Looking at Chicago
The Flames will have a tall order in terms of a rebound game. The Western Conference leaders, the Chicago Blackhawks, are coming to town on Thursday, presenting a big challenge for Calgary.
The Flames have dropped the first two games of the season series in two very different ways. The first game saw the Flames come out flying, scoring five goals and chasing starting netminder Cristobal Huet in the first period. The Hawks, however, weren't quitting despite the score. They managed to make a truimphant comeback and eventually won the game in overtime by a score of 6-5.
The next game was a disaster for the boys in red as the Blackhawks stormed into the Pengrowth Saddledome and took the game by a score of 7-1.
Robyn Regehr said that the key for his club to get back on track against such a hot team is preparation, starting immediately.
"For us, it's to come to work tomorrow and have a very good practice," Regehr said. "Get back to focusing and thinking about things we need to work on and doing that in practice and having a good attitude about it. If we do that, hopefully we'll have a very good game."
Nystrom emphasized the team's need to stay optimistic in the face of adversity, saying things would go even further south if the team let themselves fall into a negative mindset.
"It's tough when things aren't going your way, you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. We've got to make sure we're staying positive and finding a way to bounce back because we really need to.
"We were playing some pretty strong hockey in the previous few games before this road trip. We've got to get back to that. This game, you've got to erase. You've got to take the things that we're trying to figure out and apply them in our game but we've got to move on."
Is it hard for the room to stay positive?
"That's our job. Obviously, you can't be happy about a loss like that but we've got to keep playing and keep getting better. You can't be carrying a negative mindset and that's cancerous and we don't need that."
After the game, questions surrounding if this is the right group of players to lead the team deep in the playoffs have been swirling around. Nystrom was quick dismiss any need for changes in the locker room, saying this was the right group.
"Yeah, of course this is. This is our team, this is our family, this is a group that has to do it. You can't look at anybody else. This is a team that's got to do it. We've got all the personnal in that room, we've just got to apply it to the team."
When asked if he was worried about possible trades, he no one in the room was focusing on it.
"We're not worried about. That's the last thing we need to worry about. What we need to focus on is getting back to the way we were playing when we were successful and doing that every single night. We can't have nights where we're all over the map. We've got to make sure we've playing a team game and all that other stuff is a distraction. We don't need that."