Scratch burns Sarich

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Seeing his consecutive games streak dusted was disappointing enough for Cory Sarich.

However, the manner in which it ended -- a healthy scratch Saturday night in Phoenix -- is even worse.

"It sucks. Who wants to be a healthy scratch?" said the Calgary Flames defenceman. "When you've played as many in a row as I have, it's not quite how I pictured my streak ending.

"But it happened, so I'm dealing with it."

Sarich's run -- which was the longest active streak in the NHL -- officially ended at 453 games. He'd suited up in every contest possible since early in the 2001-02 season, but had an inkling it was over during the flight from Anaheim after Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Ducks when Mike Keenan came to the back of the plane to address a few players.

"I sit beside Rhett (Warrener) and I heard him tell him that he was in the lineup, so I had a bit of an indicator then it might be me. Just being Rhett's a right-handed shot," Sarich said. "I thought I overheard him say, too, 'Your buddy here might be out.'

"It wasn't directed at me right then, but I had an idea."

Upon reaching Phoenix, the 29-year-old was told once they checked into the hotel he was to take in the morning skate -- optional for those playing being the second half of back-to-back nights.

"I knew it was going to come to an end one day. A healthy scratch is not the way you picture yourself not being in the lineup," Sarich said. "I just want to help this team win, and you can't do it from (the press box). Next time I'm in, I guess I'll have to do more out on the ice."

Signed as free-agent in the off-season to a five-year, US$18-million contract, Sarich had a rough outing in Anaheim. He was on the ice for both of the Ducks' first-period goals, the opener coming only 35 seconds into the tilt, and the second coming after Corey Perry won the battle with Sarich for a loose puck.

"It was a frustrating game, I'll tell you that," said Sarich, who played a season-low 9:43 in the outing and was minus-one. "It was really frustrating the first play of the game, having the ref boot the puck behind the net to help set up that first goal.It was a frustrating experience (Friday), all in all."

Keenan explained his decision after his team topped Phoenix 3-1, pinning it more on Sarich struggling while trying to play with a mask -- the result of taking a puck in the mouth nearly two weeks ago -- as opposed to that game.

"He's had a little bit of a problem dealing with the cage, just like (Eric) Nystrom," Keenan said. "You can't see the puck when it's down at your feet and I said, 'Well, you're gonna have that cage taken off pretty soon, so let's wait and make a change here because of that.' "

Sarich didn't believe Keenan, who was upset with his whole team.

"I don't know if he's trying to send a message or not, but you win as a team and lose as a team," Sarich said.


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