New Flames' hands quickly went stone cold

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

It could’ve been a perfect setup.

As a seemingly endless pack of reporters questioned the Calgary Flames about their offensive shortcomings last week, somebody suggested it was next-to-impossible to develop chemistry with roster upheaval at mid-season.

Matt Stajan, one of four skaters to arrive in a massive swap with the Toronto Maple Leafs in late January, isn’t one to make excuses.

“We knew, coming in, we had fresh faces and you’re gonna be playing with guys you haven’t played with, but you’ve gotta make it work in the short period, and that’s the way it was going to be this year,” Stajan said. “Yeah, it’s tough to build chemistry in the short-term, but that’s where we had a challenge. That’s the way it was this year, no matter what. We didn’t have much time, and we had spurts where we did well. Unfortunately, there was spurts where we weren’t good enough, and that’s too bad.”

It’s also one of the reasons the Flames will spend the next few days in exit interviews instead of preparing for a first-round NHL playoff series.

After watching his squad lose nine consecutive contests thanks to an offence so cold it could give a polar bear the shivers, Flames GM Darryl Sutter pulled the trigger on a pair of significant swaps over a three-day span, bringing in six new skaters with the intention of creating salary-cap flexibility and adding scoring depth up front.

Cash considerations aside, the deals didn’t exactly pay dividends.

In 27 outings apiece after joining the Flames in the blockbuster swap that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto, Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White combined for only 13 goals.

Ales Kotalik lit the lamp three times in 25 contests after arriving from the Big Apple as part of the Olli Jokinen trade, while Christopher Higgins counted two in a dozen games before missing the stretch run with an injury.

By contrast, fellow Maple Leafs castoff Lee Stempniak, tickled the twine 14 times in 18 contests in the desert after being jettisoned by the Leafs to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Turns out, the Flames were targeting the wrong guy.

“Obviously, I was hoping

I could’ve helped the team better, could’ve played better,” said Hagman, whose five tallies as a Flame included a pair in Saturday’s lopsided loss to the Vancouver Canucks. “It’s still a team sport, but obviously the individuals have to play well. I would’ve hoped that it would’ve gone better.

“It has been a little weird that we haven’t scored more goals. If you look at the stats, if we would’ve scored a couple here and there, we would have won a lot of games.”

Only the Boston Bruins scored fewer goals this season than the Flames (204), a scary stat that certainly can’t be pinned entirely on the new guys.


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