SUN Hockey Pool

Fear sinks in as time ticks away

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

UNIONDALE, NY -- Maybe it's the feeling of that proverbial noose closing around their collective neck.

Or the thought of the hill they have to climb.

Maybe it's the fact the Flames haven't received any help from teams facing those squads which they're trying to catch in the Western Conference standings -- despite all their words saying they weren't paying close attention to the other clubs in the race.

Whatever the cause, you can't help but wonder whether the sheer magnitude of the task at hand, combined with some sense of hopelessness, has caught up to them.

Instead of building on any momentum, the Flames appear to have become a team living in fear of making a mistake and struggling with the possibilities, instead of relishing them and rising to the challenge.

"We've got everything to gain and nothing to lose here," said defenceman Cory Sarich defiantly.

"Just go out and play. We're in a position we should be loose, we should be just giving 'er.

"We've only got progress to make. We just have to play better."

A lot better.

Thursday night's 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders wasn't a performance from a team which believed it's on the verge of a lengthy winning streak that will pull them back into the elite eight.

They were tentative to start.

No shots on goal for eight full minutes, and that was a gift from the official scorer since Ian White's point-shot offering was going high.

They lacked jump. Lacked spark.

Instead of pushing forward with a attitude that said "We'll show you it can be done," it was one which screamed out "What can go wrong?"

The urgency everyone knew was needed was missing.

It's hard for anybody watching to understand.

"It's tough for some of us to understand in here, too," Sarich said.

"I don't know why the start's like that, but it can't be like that. It's got to be better.

"All around, there needs to be a stronger effort throughout our whole game."

The desperation came in the final 10 minutes, but it was too late.

Instead of heading to Boston for Saturday afternoon's clash against the Bruins with a chance to be within two points of Detroit, that playoff perch appears further away.

The Flames essentially have to win all their remaining eight games.

"There's got to be an attitude of, 'How bad do I want this? How bad do I want to put it out there?" said head coach Brent Sutter.

"It's one thing to say, 'Do' and it's another to do it. We need it done."

"We need it done with every individual in that room. No one's left off the hook in that. For us to get there, it has to be that way.

"That's part of the reason why we're in the situation we're in."

Which is looking for something of miracle.

"It's not something impossible," Sutter said.

"Did it make it a little more difficult after tonight? Sure it does. But you've got to still believe and believe you can get it done.

"But we need that desperation and need that sense of urgency. It's noticeable when we don't have it and noticeable when we do."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos