SUN Hockey Pool

Flames missing passion

Flames' Daymond Langkow (right) is checked off the puck by Canucks' Alexander Edler (left) and...

Flames' Daymond Langkow (right) is checked off the puck by Canucks' Alexander Edler (left) and Brendan Morrison yesterday. (SUN MEDIA/Jack Cusano)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Mike Keenan's pause lasted a solid five seconds.

That was after he cleared his throat.

On the heels of a 3-2 Calgary Flames loss to the Vancouver Canucks in which a frenzied comeback fell just short last night, the head coach was asked why his team was yet again unable to put together that top-notch effort the whole game.

Sure, they were inspired for the second half of the clash and created a flurry of offensive chances in a failed attempt to come back, but it wasn't enough to erase a three-goal deficit.

Which begs the question: What's preventing the club that's now lost four straight games from the expected 60-minute performance?

"I have some ideas, but I'm not prepared to share them right now," Keenan finally said. "I want to discuss them with the team before I make those comments.

"I think I know why but I want to make sure, and in fairness to them give them an opportunity to explain it first before I have that discussion.

"Maybe I can answer your question in a day or two."

Until then, Keenan's club will deservedly be queried about its Jekyll-and-Hyde outings. After all, it's hard to understand how a team that went into the clash having lost three in a row could be listless through the first 30 minutes.

By that time, the Flames (6-7-3) were trailing by three goals and had seen Daymond Langkow, the club's No.-2 goal scorer, knocked from the game due to a questionable hit from Vancouver's Matt Cooke.

"The frustrating part is when we play the way we can, we can beat anybody. And when we don't, anybody can beat us," said defenceman Anders Eriksson. "We seem, in a sense, beating ourselves the way we're playing until our backs are pushing against the wall."

The push back was impressive, with goals coming 33 seconds apart from Eriksson and Owen Nolan. And the 24-shot third period was a sight to behold for the Saddledome's sellout crowd of 19,289.

Flummoxing is how it didn't come earlier against a Vancouver squad missing three of its top defencemen.

"I don't think it's lack of effort," Eriksson insisted. "Everybody works really hard, everybody tries really hard. At the same time, we're trying to do too much instead of maybe simplifying it.

"That's what we did in the third period, if you want from when Daymond got hit.

It's what the Flames displayed in the first 30 minutes that's dragging them down. At the midway point, they had only 10 shots on goal and weren't creating enough quality scoring chances.

Meanwhile, goals by Brendan Morrison, Byron Ritchie and Alex Burrows put the Canucks ahead by three, leaving Flames faithful wondering where the passion was.

"I don't question our passion," Eriksson said. "I don't question our desire to win here in this locker-room. Whoever does is out to lunch. Everybody wants to win. We want to compete for the Stanley Cup. That's why we're here.

As for Langkow, Keenan said he'd suffered a concussion from the hit that saw Cooke draw a boarding penalty and start a melee that resulted in Calgary's Dion Phaneuf fighting Mattias Ohlund, who stepped in as Cooke was being targeted.

However, Keenan wasn't calling for a suspension.

"It was a hard hockey hit and Daymond put himself in a position, to a certain extent, to get hit," Keenan said. "The problem was he's a little bit shorter and he ended up hitting his head on the glass."


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