SUN Hockey Pool

Hot and cold Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- After a night's sleep, following yet another game where his team showed a lack of urgency and preparation, Mike Keenan was still looking for answers and still frustrated.

Asked if he's ever guided a team that had so much trouble with readiness and preparation, the Flames head coach replied: "Yeah, I've been around a couple of bad teams that weren't ready to play ever, so that didn't really come into the comparison level.

"That's not flippant, that's teams that got 60 points for the season. But I've never been around a team with as many veterans, NHL veterans, and played so inconsistently."

So had Craig Conroy not spied any pucks when he and the rest of the Calgary Flames hit the ice at the frigid Anaheim practice facility, it would have come as no shock.

On the heels of a disastrous and lacklustre performance the night before -- a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings -- there would have been no surprise whatsoever for the player coached by Keenan when the Iron Mike monicker was at its height.

"Not at all. It's what we talk about, it's what we try to avoid, but we just don't learn," said Conroy. "For whatever reason, I don't know if it's nervous or we're thinking it's going to be an easy game, but it's frustrating as a player, and so disappointing a team we needed to beat, we didn't beat.

"Pucks or no pucks, it would have been well warranted."

Keenan was actually surprised when asked if he considered giving his players a refresher course in the value of hard work.

"That's totally counter-productive," he said after what was actually a short session yesterday. "We're at a stage now where we're trying to get results. Our job today is to get them ready and focused for tomorrow. So, if we come out and skate them so they can't walk, what does that do."

Don't think Keenan is going soft. Far from it.

Asked if it's his job or the players to ensure preparation wasn't an issue, he responded: "Last time I checked, it's supposed to be their job: They're professionals. The coaching staff can set the table for them, but if a group like this can't get themselves ready, you wonder what it takes. If it takes a coach to do it for them every day, then that doesn't say a lot about the group."

Asked if he planned to use the same philosophy as he used when the club was struggling in November or bring out the whip, he said: "We did let them play through it and they probably had the best December and January in the league. So, when they make up their minds, I guess they'll want to play again."

Rest assured, the players know Keenan isn't happy. Practice wasn't long but was short on jocularity.

Still, Conroy said he believes his team needs to find it's self-assuredness heading into tonight's clash with the Anaheim Ducks.

Maybe even a bit of swagger.

"We don't have that right now. It's what we're lacking for whatever reason," he said. "We've got to play like we're a good team. Not that you want to be cocky but you've got to have that swagger and be feeling good about yourself, but it just seems we're on edge.

"You feel you want to do more, try to do more, but then make a mistake and the next guy makes a mistake and everybody's trying to cover up for each other. We have to stick to our game plan, when we're hitting and when we're forechecking, that's when we're good.

"We're way better than this and haven't shown it. We've shown it now and then, but that's not good enough."


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