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Similar start as Flames focused on better path

The Flames know how important it is to turn things around now

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- The starts are identical.

Special teams? Eerily similar.

And goals, both for and against, match up.

The similarities are too plentiful to ignore.

It wasn't good enough last year.

And veteran Matt Stajan knows it's not good enough this season, either.

"I think everybody's got to take a look in the mirror and be honest with themselves," Stajan started. "We haven't played up to our capability. All you can worry about is yourself right now and bring everything you can to help the team win. If everybody does that we'll become a good team.

"We've got great guys in here. Everybody loves each other. But we've got to put it together.

"You don't want to let the guy next to you down and that's the attitude we've got to have ... That's the bottom line.

"There better be urgency. You don't want to be panicked but at the same time you need urgency. When you need urgency you can say there's people panicking. What's the difference? Guys better have a little bit of panic and produce some urgency. That's what we need right now.

"I don't think there's any other way to go about it." 

Stajan remembers.

Sean Monahan does, too.

Video: The Flames veteran talks about what the team needs

A slumping start out of the gate put the Calgary Flames behind the 8-ball before the calendar turned to December, limping out to a 5-9-1 start by the 15-game mark of the 2015-16 calendar.

A three-game losing streak has Calgary in the exact same spot this year.

"When you're losing games like this in stretches you've got to look into yourself and see what you can do better and what can you bring to the table to make the team better," Monahan said. "It's a team game. When everyone does their job and plays at the top of their game that's when your team's the best. 

"We've got to find a way to do that, each of us, and bring that to every game."

It hasn't consistently been there through the first 15.

And it has them in the same position through the first 15 a year ago. 

The penalty kill, in 2015-16, killed at a 76.1 percent clip -- 26th in the NHL.

The penalty kill, in 2016-17, has killed at a 72.1 percent clip -- 29th overall. 

The power play, a year ago, clicked at a 14.6 percent rate -- 22nd-best in the League.

The power play, this year, is functioning at 8.0 percent -- 30th overall.

Both 15-game stretches saw the Flames generate 37 goals, and Calgary has allowed four fewer against -- and 54 in total -- this season.

The group a year ago went 30-31-6 the rest of the way a year ago to finish 10 points back of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card entry from the West. 

The group this year expects more. 

"These stats don't say what we can be," Monahan said.

"We've got to find a way to get where we know we can be.

"We need a push early; we need a push right now."

Pushes while the games are still relevant.

So, when the end of the season comes around, their start to the season is irrelevant.

"We see every year how hard it is to climb back into the playoff race and fall back," Stajan said. "We know that these games are important. We've let a few slip away here. I know we've had spurts and we can look at positives, but we've got to figure out ways to win.

"Right now we're finding ways to lose. That's not going to work and that's the position we're in.

"We haven't been playing the way I know we can. There are positives in spurts of games, but to win in this league you've got to play a full 60 and you've got to have everybody going. 

"We can't have half the guys going and half the guys taking nights off. Right now that's costing us. We're not good enough to just have one or two lines going. We've got to turn this around. Guys have to step up. 

"No excuses. 

"We've got to all be better."

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