SUN Hockey Pool

Lack of urgency lead to Game 80 loss

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:06 AM ET

CALGARY — No offence, no point, no help, no playoffs.

No kidding.

The body may not be cold, but it’s dead alright — a season that started with the Flames touted as Stanley Cup contenders ended with a Game 80 loss to San Jose last night followed by a Colorado win.

Make that a pitiful Game 80 loss.

Oh sure, there are those who didn’t boo the lads last night who believe there’s no shame in out-shooting the conference-leading Sharks and coming out on the short end of a 2-1 loss.

But considering all that was on the line — their playoff lives — the Flames’ should be ashamed their effort was devoid of the urgency a true playoff-bound team should’ve displayed.

Right from the start, the Flames did nothing to establish the sort of home-ice advantage they used to hold over teams.

They didn’t set an early tone, throw any big hits or do anything to energize and give hope to the fans, or one another.

And now all hope is lost, as is the season.

Despite two meaningless games left on the docket, the Flames will punctuate The Implosion of 2010 by packing their bags Monday.

A 4-3 shootout win for Colorado in Vancouver that wrapped up a half hour after the Flames loss put a merciful end to the hollow, forced mantra from the players suggesting they “still believed.”

Clearly they didn’t. Nor did they have much reason to, outside of Miikka Kiprusoff.

Self destructing months ago by way of puzzling player apathy, a disregard for the coach’s desired style of play and an innate inability to score, it was fitting then that on the night their fate was mathematically sealed the general effort lacked and the offence was once again dormant.

Fitting also the season essentially ended at home, where the club’s abysmal record (20-17-3) ultimately cost the club any chance it may have had at a post-season berth.

In terms of positives on the night, Kiprusoff was stellar again and, well, the press box popcorn was tasty.

Let the autopsy begin as fans, players, the media and management try to put their fingers on how five years of relatively smooth sailing could go so wrong, so fast.

Most fingers have been pointing at the captain, Jarome Iginla, with GM Darryl Sutter a close second. For the first time in ages, their respective futures with the club are up in the air.

Discuss amongst yourselves, as if you haven’t already hashed it over and over again the last few months.

Last night’s exercise in offensive futility saw the Sharks grab a 2-0 lead 25 minutes in and then sit back to let the Flames throw pillows at Evgeni Nabokov from the perimeter. It wasn’t until five minutes into the third period the building first came alive as the Flames offered another teasingly faint glimmer of hope.

It came on the powerplay when Rene Bourque — one of the Flames’ few bright lights this season — tapped in the sort of brilliant setup pass fans expected Jay Bouwmeester to make all season. Spinning from the boards to deliver a pass across the crease that landed right on Bourque’s stick, Bouwmeester demonstrated the type of creativity that landed him a $33-million contract.

The season might have been summed up minutes later when the team’s best skater all season Mark Giordano dug the puck out from behind San Jose’s net and made a perfect feed to Eric Nystrom in front. Nystrom missed miserably and the snipe-challenged Flames never got a better chance.

Surely many felt compelled to boo the lads at the final buzzer, but those who chose to do so were drowned out by the sound of thousands stomping up the metal stairs to the exit.

They couldn’t leave fast enough, which is likely how the players will feel Monday when the autopsy will be in full swing.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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