SUN Hockey Pool

Flames players keeping faith

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 PM ET

DENVER — Hockey players claim they never read the newspapers, listen to the call-in shows or watch the sportscasts.

Yet, they all know the lay of the land.

The Calgary Flames are well aware they’re being written off and plenty of people believe their playoff aspirations are done.

“We’re not done,” left winger Eric Nystrom said prior to Wednesday night’s clash with the Colorado Avalanche. “We’re three points out of a playoff spot. Since when is that done? It’s because everyone jumps off and on the bandwagon.

“Who cares what anybody else thinks. The only thing that matters is what we do, and we’re definitely not done.”

It’s up to the Flames to prove the critics wrong. That defiance could help.

So could a little extra motivation, although it’s hard to imagine they need more motivation to win games at this time of year.

“Yeah, we’re in a little bit of a hole, there’s no doubt about that, but we’re right there. It comes down to winning games,” Nystrom said. “If we don’t do it, it’s our own fault.

“But we’re certainly not done. We’ve got plenty of hockey left.”

Calgary has a dozen games remaining.

“We still think there’s more than one team to catch still in play, and we know we have to win a huge share of these games,” said captain Jarome Iginla. “You get a month like this, play this many games, things can change quickly.

“That reaction is part of playing in Canada. People are very passionate about it, and when you’re winning, times are great, and when you’re not, people probably over-react. You get used to it.

“You put a string together, people get all excited.

“There’s lots of fans that haven’t (written them off). They believe we can make it and are still sticking by us. We believe we can make it.”

There are two schools of thought regarding the outside perception.

Some want to throw it back when they overcome the odds.

Some figure it’s best to ignore.

“You learn at this level not to get caught up in what people are saying about you on the outside. We know it’s still there for us. We know we just need to win games,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “You’ve go to have a really strong belief it can be done. I still strongly believe that and I truly believe the players do, too.”

It is amazing to see the reaction when hockey players are told people don’t believe in them.

“Are people writing us off?” centre Matt Stajan asked. “You can’t worry about what everybody else thinks, just believe in here. If we play well and win hockey games, we’ll get in.

“It’s not a stretch, but will be a battle.

“It’s like being the underdog in a game. You go out there with the attitude to prove people wrong. That’s what we have to do.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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