Forgive Brendan Morrison. He’s new to town, and hasn’t yet figured out how hard it can be to have fun playing hockey in Calgary.
The Flames are a team that has historically had a tough time letting go of losses and remaining positive in the face of adversity.
So for the former Vancouver Canucks centre, it might take some getting used to.
One of his own unprompted keys to getting things back on track after a pair of losses followed a narrow escape last week, is bringing the fun back.
“I believe as a group we’ve got to enjoy playing, we’ve got to enjoy coming to the rink,” said the 35-year-old who heads into Wednesday’s game as the Flames’ top scorer.
“I find, me personally, when you come to the rink and you’re dragging, you’ve got your head down, it makes for a long day — even though we’re not here for that long of a time.
“It’s tough to get energy.
“I find when you’re having fun, you work harder. When you’re not enjoying it, when you don’t have that energy, it’s tough to get going.”
Asked if that has been a problem for his new team, Morrison admits it might pop up from time to time.
Like, for example, during a 7-2 loss to the Washington Capitals after the Flames staked themselves to a 2-0 lead then found themselves trailing 3-2 early in the second period.
“I think it maybe crept in a little bit there last game, when we gave up those quick goals. It was pretty deflating,” Morrison said. “But that’s when we have to regroup as a team and say let’s do something about this instead of feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Some thought Miikka Kiprusoff might have pulled himself from Saturday’s game.
Apparently, it was just another example of his cat-like reflexes.
Heading to the bench quickly after Alexander Semin scored the Washington Capitals’ sixth unanswered goal of the game and fifth of the second period, Kiprusoff had people wondering whether or not he got the hook or took himself off the hook.
More questions were raised after Kiprusoff was put back between the pipes for the third period.
“I think it’s the first time it happened to me,” Kiprusoff said of being returned to the net after being yanked. “I know I’ve seen it happen before.
“Like they say, you always have to be ready.”
The Finnish goaltender said neither coming out nor going in were his decisions.
He wasn’t about to pull a Patrick Roy and take himself out of the game voluntarily, even if he wasn’t having any fun in there.
“No, I never do that,” he said. “You don’t want to do that.
“Coach always makes the call who’s playing and when you’re playing. I go with that. It wasn’t a big deal.”
Kiprusoff’s record last year in games after getting pulled was 3-2.
Iginla stays positive
Jarome Iginla’s rough start to the season — just two goals in 11 games — isn’t what he’d hoped for after having to deal with such a disappointing finish to the last campaign.
But he’s staying positive.
“I think it’s very important to keep positive and optimistic. For me, it’s been a tough first month,” Iginla said Monday. “But it’s a new month.
I believe things will get better. I’m excited to play.
“Every year, there’s a tough stretch. Most people do have a tough stretch over the course of the year.
“I look at it as I’ve got mine out of the way, and I’m ready to go.”
Teammate Brendan Morrison said he hasn’t seen any signs of tension between captain and head coach, despite people reading into Brent Sutter’s comments this week as if they were an attempt to call out Iginla.
“There’s nothing wrong,” Morrison said. “It’s just magnified right now because our team has lost two games. Simply put.”
Moss makes progress
David Moss practised on the second line Monday.
That may be partially because of the absence of left-winger Alex Tanguay, who was held out for “maintenance” issues after taking a stick to the teeth Saturday night.
But it’s also a good sign Moss could make his season debut after sitting out the first month with a shoulder injury.
“I hope so. I felt good today,” said Moss, who skated on the right side with Olli Jokinen at centre and Niklas Hagman on the left wing. “Hopefully another good practice tomorrow and we’ll see what the coaches think from there.”
Head coach Brent Sutter said a decision will be made “closer to Wednesday” or even as a “game-day decision.”
That could mean the re-assignment of Brett Sutter, who’s been sitting out as a healthy scratch lately.
Jokinen left practice early, but Sutter said it was also a maintenance issue, which is coach speak for something minor.
With Alex Tanguay sitting out, Brendan Morrison took the left flank on the top line with Matt Stajan and Jarome Iginla.
Niklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen and David Moss skated together, while Brett Sutter was teamed with centre Mikael Backlund and right-winger Rene Bourque.
Craig Conroy and Stefan Meyer split duties on the fourth line, with wingers Curtis Glencross and Tim Jackman.
Tigers tame Flames
The Flames’ losing streak on ice sits at two, but off the ice, it reached a whopping 29 games Monday afternoon.
The Townsend Tigers led from start to finish in the annual charity wheelchair hockey game at the Aberta Children’s Hospital, beating the likes of Mikael Backlund, Craig Conroy, Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr 11-7.
Sixteen Flames took part.