SUN Hockey Pool

Flames Coach takes blame

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Taking the heat for his team's lack of urgency last night, head coach Mike Keenan might also take the fall this summer for another disappointing playoff performance if his Calgary Flames can't rebound.

It could cost him his job.

If they do end up losing this series, it probably should.

Keenan sounded like a man well aware of that possibility following a crushing 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center last night, putting the Flames on the brink of elimination with Game 6 going at the Dome tomorrow night.

"With the way we played the first period, the criticism has to fall on myself, the coach," he said. "The team wasn't prepared to play at all, for a number of reasons.

"The bottom line is that when you're team doesn't respond -- or isn't prepared -- that's really the coach's responsibility. And that's exactly what the state of the club was. We weren't prepared for the push that we saw from them, and that's my job."

It's also the captain's job, and Jarome Iginla was equally willing to fall on the sword in the aftermath of the most embarrassing game of their season.

"It's on us as players and myself as captain. We weren't ready to go off the start," said Iginla. "We didn't have that same urgency and fire from the start.

"I wasn't nearly good enough. I was terrible tonight. There's no excuse for that."

Iginla wasn't alone.

Olli Jokinen, Michael Cammalleri, Todd Bertuzzi and Miikka Kiprusoff were all considered missing in action last night, while the Blackhawks stars were sharp.

Only Dustin Boyd managed to score -- congrats on his first NHL playoff goal. The lone assist went to Adam Pardy.

It can be argued Eric Nystrom was the Flames' best player on the night.

With one more loss -- the only thing between the second round or their first round of golf -- that lack of clutch performances in the biggest game of their season has be a major concern.

"Disappointment in ourselves that we put together an effort like we did tonight," Cammalleri said after the game.

It's the same thing the fans are feeling.

But you can add shock and anger to the mix where the Flames faithful are concerned.

And who could blame them?

Iginla looks like a monster one night and a kid afraid of the ones in his closet the next. Jokinen goes from a two-goal performance to a two-shot effort.

Despite the words coming out of their mouths about their backs being against the wall now, knowing they're in a must-win situation, it's hard to believe they'll back it up on the ice.

Especially after a performance like the one in Game 5.

"Well, it's definitely a sense of urgency and desperation," said Cammalleri.

"I think we can identify with it a bit just because we kind of felt like Games 3 and 4 were a little bit of those scenarios as well. Even though they weren't actual do-or-dies, they felt like it."

The Flames came through then with a pair of wins at home to even the series.

Shouldn't that have been enough of a wakeup call?

"Obviously," said Craig Conroy. "We're fighting for our lives now."

And their jobs. And their coach's job -- although that envelope may already be sealed.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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