SUN Hockey Pool

Bad few weeks Illustrated by Flames

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Tough couple of weeks for Sports Illustrated.

They're getting whipped from all angles because one of their golf writers waited until after the tournament, rather than before she signed her scorecard, to rat out Michelle Wie for an illegal drop, ensuring she'd be disqualified rather than penalized two strokes.

All the while, the magazine's consensus pick to finish first overall in the NHL, the Calgary Flames, are struggling to keep their heads above the playoff cutline (they'd be next to last if they didn't own the Oilers).

"There can be pre-season polls or whatever, that means nothing to us,'' Steve Reinprecht said of expectations that aren't being met. "It's a long season, you can't get too high and you can't get too low. It's an old cliche but there's no truer saying than that.''

The Flames miss Craig Conroy (seven points in his last two games) more than they know. And it's not like Daymond Langkow and Tony Amonte are the kind of guys who can carry a sagging team on their shoulders.

"We need to be a hard team to play against,'' said assistant coach Jim Playfair. "That was a huge part of our identity and we have to get back to that ... being a miserable team again.''

- Toronto's Jeff O'Neill, on the eve of his first game against his old team, recalled the most bizarre moment in Hurricanes history: "When the pig mascot (Stormy) had a seizure inside the Zamboni. He was supposed to jump out after being called by a professional hog caller as part of some pre-game promotion. But he was nearly asphyxiated from the fumes under the hood.''

- Oh how the hockey world is changing: after St. Louis lost in a shootout to Nashville, Blues defenceman Eric Weinrich was thrilled to get the loser point. "We're playing against one of the best teams in the league. It was a great point, they're going to be a contender all the way.'' While Nashville is undefeated, the Blues are in a world of hurt. They're off to their worst in 13 years. Eric Brewer has a team leading three goals there, but leads the team in minus (-5).

- Speaking of St. Louis, NHL MVP Martin St. Louis has two points in his first seven games, his only goal coming on a five-on-three. This, after 94 points last season. "I'm not going to blame the puck or the stick or the gloves,'' he said. "It's between my ears right now.''


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