News flash to Flames: You’re not that good

Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun collected some fantastically honest quotes from our heroes screwups after last night’s debacle against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Owen Nolan:

“Instead of playing smart defensively and wait for them to come to us — wait for them to make mistakes and capitalize on them — we continue to throw four guys up the play and get caught for two-on-ones.

Coach Mike Keenan:

“It’s perplexing more than anything why a group like this has had swings all season long, and they continue to have them at the detriment of our success. It is a frustrating group to work with.”

Craig Conroy:

“We don’t want to be giving up three-on-twos, two-on-ones, breakaways. We’ve got to have that playoff mentality. Three-nothing should be game over. It’s inexcusable. To give up six is embarrassing.”

There’s been a lot of talk about Cujo overplaying pucks last night, blah, blah, blah, but Conroy and Nolan, who ironically were guilty on a number of the occasions they were referring to, hit the nail on the head with regards to the problem last night in the 6-4 loss. Thing is, there has to be a mindset that pushes you to get there. It can come from coaching, personnel, overall philosophy, whatever.

I think the Flames are still — still! — suffering from Cup Finals hangover.

As in, “we made the final, and now we make the playoffs every year, so we’re amazing.” No humility, no awareness that they haven’t won anything. Just the adoration of an entire city despite the galling inconsistency that leaves them being essentially disowned by their coach in post-game comments.

Think about that quote from Keenan: “It is a frustrating group to work with.” As in, “I’m not part of this group if they’re going to play like this.”

The turning point of the game was the 4-3 goal by Chris Thorburn, without question, and it encapsulated the Flames’ biggest problem: An inability to concentrate. The situation: It’s a must-win game, it’s 4-3 in the third period, you’re generally controlling the flow of play. Shortly after Jarome Iginla hits the crossbar, he skates in on the left-wing side and, seeing this, Adrian Aucoin streaks in from the right point. He receives a perfect pass to the right of the crease but doesn’t score — he fires it wide, and of course it rebounds out of the zone and onto the stick of a streaking Thorburn. He scores a beautiful goal on the partial break, it’s 4-4, and the Thrashers are rolling to victory.

The problem started when Iginla hit the crossbar. Despite the fact it was 4-3, they smelled blood and suddenly wanted the two-goal lead more than they wanted to protect the one-goal lead. “It’s Atlanta,” they thought. “What could happen.”

Well, we know the answer now, don’t we.

So what do you do here? Your coach, your veteran leaders, they all seem to understand what the problem is in post-game comments. They have a pattern of screwing up like this and making up for it against better teams, but as soon as they get on a roll, the hubris rises, overconfidence and inconsistency return and it’s back to fighting for a playoff spot. Teams like that don’t do anything in the post-season, they lose in the first round to teams that are disciplined and understand that winning is more important than scoring a bunch of goals and hugging each other.

If you ask me, this is on Iginla and Regehr at this point. Those are the veteran leaders, longtime Flames who are the best guys at their positions on the club. Adrian Aucoin should know that Regehr’s going to let him know what he thinks of his stupid back-door try. Alex Tanguay should hear what Iginla thinks of his inability to pick up the trailer on the Hossa goal, and Kristian Huselius should know from Iggy that he doesn’t need be immediately revenged when it’s 5-4 and you’re trying to tie it up. I don’t think there’s any accountability in that dressing room. And Conroy’s right: It is embarrassing.

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~ by duncan on March 14, 2008.

4 Responses to “News flash to Flames: You’re not that good”

  1. haha…apprently you’re as frustrated as I am.

    It’s tempting to point the finger at preparedness and focus…but, in my eyes, the team just isn’t that good. The special teams and the lackluster GD tell the story. The Flames are where they are right now because of guys like Iginla, Regehr, Phaneuf and Kipper…they’ve dragged a pretty sorry bunch through the mud all year. Sometimes the big guys dominate and the Flames win. Sometimes they don’t and we lose. And sometimes Iginla kicks ass and he STILL can’t make up for the crappiness of the rest of the roster (Aucoin, Hale, Nolan, CuJo buried the team against Atlanta).

    Im not going to totally excuse the players here – last game was embarrassing and they should be better. But in the end this ultimately comes back to Sutter and his numerous poor gambles in the Summer.

  2. i was thinking about it after the game the other night: i’m actually feeling SORRY for keenan. it’s like, it doesn’t matter what he does/says/screams. the current flames squad act like children throwing tantrums: hands over ears screaming “NANANANANA.” i think poor mike has done all he can, short of telling the boys to fuck off and walk out the door. i’d love to see that move, actually. “you guys know what you’re doing ? then COACH YOURSELVES !!!”

    yeah. nice. i like that…. 😉

  3. *walking out the door

  4. you really are such a tease. 😉

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