Time to snap out of it!

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

When NHL players are injured, talking about them is akin to conjuring the dead.

Those on the shelf can't help the cause, so no sense bringing them into focus.

The Calgary Flames have plenty of bodies in purgatory these days, but pining about injured players during a losing skid is a no-no.

It's making excuses.

The theory is understandable, but eliminating four of your top six defencemen and your best five-on-five goal-scorer -- as is the case with the Flames at this moment -- will have a negative impact.

That's a fact. The Flames are living proof.

Even still, those who walk among the living simply aren't doing enough these days to minimize the problem.

Especially those who are pegged to be difference-makers in the offensive zone.

Friday's 4-0 loss to the host Minnesota Wild was the third time in the last six games the Flames have been blanked.

Moreover, they've only managed six goals in those half-dozen contests.

Among all the problems afflicting the Flames as they head into their final four regular-season games, starting tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Kings, is their pop-gun attack.

It's a team-wide epidemic.

The top five goal-scorers on the active roster -- which eliminates the injured Rene Bourque and the 21 goals he netted before being felled by an ankle sprain a couple of months ago -- have all stepped into a great abyss at the same time, suffering from major scoring slumps.

* Michael Cammalleri has a career-best 36 goals on the season, but is in the midst of a six-game goal and point drought. He's notched only two goals in 14 games.

* Jarome Iginla has only scored twice in the last nine games, and sits at 33 total. He's running the risk of his worst season in terms of goals since 2000-01.

* Olli Jokinen was on fire when he first arrived at the trade deadline with eight goals in his first six games, but now has been blanked in nine games -- in which he's managed only three assists -- to leave him with 29 goals.

* Daymond Langkow's lone goal in the last 10 games has him stuck at 20.

* David Moss hasn't scored in 14 outings since netting his first career hat-trick, and continues to look for his first 20-goal season.

For much of the season, Calgary was among the most prolific scoring teams in the Western Conference, and a top-10 squad in the league.

Now, goals are harder to come by than stock-market winners.

At a time Calgary's game should be rounding nicely into form and readying for what fans hope will be a long playoff run, the Flames' snipers are struggling.

And it can't be all simply be pegged on strong goaltending from the opposition.

Iginla and Jokinen looked like a dynamic duo in their first few games together, but they've become a chemistry experiment that's blown up in the face of a mad scientist.

The lack of production from the others takes away the secondary scoring which had clubs unsure what poison to pick. Of course, it would help if the powerplay could regain its form.

Lately it's not just fizzling, it's non-existent, having failed to score in the last six games and on an 0-for-25 swoon with barely a hint of creativity and generating nowhere near enough high-calibre chances to even build momentum.

There are plenty of other problems for head coach Mike Keenan, his staff and the players to correct with just one week remaining in the regular season.

The lack of start-to-finish, 60-minute performances is puzzling.

The inability to win the second half of back-to-back games is flabbergasting.

Even the struggles in the first half of those double dips is troublesome.

The disappearance of offence from the lesser lights is hurting.

And the up-and-down goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff -- so good in Dallas, unable to come up with the key stops the next night against Minnesota -- is baffling.

But unless the big guns start hitting the mark in the manner befitting their salaries and expectations, the golf clubs will be coming out of the closet too soon.

The woes can't be pinned on all those out of sight -- and supposedly out of mind -- in the sick bay.


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