Flames Lose Fifth Straight: Season Over

 

Let’s be totally honest with ourselves here...it’s over.

With losses in five straight games, the Calgary Flames sit with only 83 points, currently three points back of the 8th position, and most likely more by night’s end.

Goal scoring has come to a grinding halt and funny enough, so have the wins.

The shootout arguments have been bandied about for the last week. Why did they put Stajan, Stempniak, Jones and Comeau in the shootout against Minnesota instead of their top guns?

It’s simple really. The previous method simply wasn’t working so why not try something new?

The real question is how on earth the Flames even allowed that game to get to a shootout?

And again, it’s a simple answer. The Flames, too often, play not to lose, instead of playing to win. They divert away from the formula that works so well in the first period of so many games and instead go into a shell and try their best not to lose, all the while slowly giving their opponent the upper hand.

Is it a coaching problem? I’m not sold on that fact entirely, but I think a change in philosophy might be needed.

At the root of the problem is the core group of players and the lack of confidence and lack of playoff experience within that locker room.  The problem isn’t the fact that they do not WANT to win, it’s that they do not know HOW to win.

Too many of their players have seen little to no playoff hockey and when the big moments arise to make a difference, these players grip the stick way too hard and can’t find the net.

Olli Jokinen – 0 points in last seven games – six career playoff games. Over 1000 regular season games played. Better yet, he is a loser in every sense of the word.

Jay Bouwmeester – 700+ games and zero playoffs.

Curtis Glencross – 0 goals in last seven games – six career playoff games played.

Blake Comeau – 0 playoff games

Lee Stempniak – 11 playoff games

Matt Stajan – 3 playoff games

David Moss – 0 goals in 9 games

Mark Giordano – 4 playoff games

Jarome Iginla – 0 points in last five games.

Alex Tanguay – 2 points in last seven games.

Need I go on?

It’s a combination of guys who either don’t know what it feels like to win at this level or choke when the time comes to step up.

And really, to get back to the Coaching position, you have a guy leading the team that has made the playoffs twice in four (soon to be five) years of coaching in the NHL, and those two seasons came with a New Jersey team that was already well established. They didn’t make it past the first round. And now, he will have gone three straight seasons without a playoff appearance with the Flames.

It’s a losing mentality that’s engrained in the dressing room. How does Brent Sutter deserve to keep his job? What has he done to warrant such a move? Nothing is the answer.

Losing is contagious and once you get enough people within the core of team thinking you’re not good enough and can’t possibly be successful then losing is all you will ever do.

It’s kind of funny actually. This losing skid started when the Flames lost to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday. The following day Sven Baertschi was sent back down to Portland of the WHL. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Sven was the only reason for the Flames winning ways before the slide started but he brought a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the team – something the Flames had not seen, on this level, in a long time.

He plays, like most young players, without fear of losing. That attitude, I think, spread throughout the dressing room and got a lot of the other senior players really excited to play. Just like losing, winning and a good attitude is contagious and I think Sven brought just that.

With six games left, this season is all but over. They have to run the table to get to 95 points, which might be good enough. But, the opponents in the way and the morale of the Flames will most definitely get in the way of that happening.

Dust off the golf clubs.

This summer, the re-model begins. Your move Jay.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @TCLNewman

3 Comments

NickSymon's picture

Nice read Newman, could've said it better myself. Looking at the positive, Baertschi will be here full time next year. Not much more needs to be said about this season

Fythian's picture

I think for the past several years, the motto of the Flames has been "Play it safe". Don't do anything that could be a risk. That is the mindset of a NHL team that is doomed to fail but not fail hard enough to get high draft picks.

This summer, Jay Feaster and the rest of the Flames management need to finally bite the bullet and clean house. Risk a rebuild instead of maintaining the decline the Flames have taken since 2004.

Now, you don't know if Brent Sutter is a problem for the Flames. I think he is in a very major way. His motto, from his years in New Jersey and Calgary is "play it safe". He plays his team in 40 minute games, has them turtle, and then can't understand why they lose. He has to go. There better coaches out there looking for jobs.

Now, as for the players, it's time to clean house. The Flames do have some good pieces, especially showcased by their prospects this year and I'm not advocating losing them. However, players like Tanguay, Jokinen, Boumeester, and Kiprusoff are all players that could fetch the Flames some decent return in young players, picks, or even prospects.

Iginla is a different story. His prime time to move is the trade deadline next season. I think he deserves the opportunity to be traded to a contender and have a good shot at a cup. I think the time when the most high end teams would be interested would be the deadline next season as his contract is up. This would be a clear a rental as you can get but when the rental player is Iginla, a player who can be counted on to contribute every game and bring a very well rounded game to the playoffs, I think Calgary would still fetch a good return.

Giordano and Cammalleri are the two senior guys I would attempt to keep around. Both are younger (yes, yes, younger) and represent good leadership at both ends of the ice. I think they could help guide a rebuild and still be prime players when the young Flames have a shot at the playoffs again.

Now, I haven't mentioned the young in between players like Butler, Comeau, or Jones. I think these guys are trade bait. You toss them with one of Calgary's fading stars to get a better return than either could get on their own.

This has been a long time coming but some has to change. The Flames need to let go of the "play it safe" mentality and start taking risks. I think they have the right veterans to trade, the right veterans to keep and guide, and the right base to spend only 1 or 2 years near the bottom before coming back as a consistently strong team that has a real shot at the cup, rather than the current team that teases a playoff chase before choking out.

Derrick Newman's picture

Ok, I see where you are coming from but before spouting off ridiculous trade requests, look at the contracts first. Jokinen is UFA after July 1, so trading him is pretty much a moot point (unless you are trading his rights, which wont fetch you much). Tanguay is going nowhere, and just signed a 5 year deal this past year, as long as Iggy is around....and I'll get to that in a sec. Bouwmeester is impossible to trade at his salary of nearly $7 million a year. No GM is stupid enough to take that on and unfortunately the Flames are stuck with him at that number. Kipper is a different story, as with his contract going down to $2.5 mill next season and his NMC coming off July 1 and Leland Irving making a push, I believe this is the exact right time to trade Kipper. His value has never been higher than it is now and the Flames should capatalize on it.

Iggy, in my mind, only leaves if he wants to leave. He has that kind of power in this city. And personally I think he retires a Flame, so I'll leave it a t that. If he EVER expresses a desire to go anywhere else, I'd be shocked.

I realize the mediocrity with this team is extremely frustrating and I agree with you but it;s going to be a process of mixing the new young guys in with the established vets like iggy Tanguay and Cammy that will make this team succesful. A full bow up wont work, IMO. Think about a first line of Iggy Cammy and Tanguay followed by a second line of Glencross backlund and Baertschi? Or at least that's how I'm envisioning it right now.