Flames' Stajan starts over again

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

Maybe now, Matt Stajan will finally gain some traction on this season.

The start, stop, start, stop, start routine has grown a little tiring for the Calgary Flames centre.

Having twice been sidelined by injuries already this season, its understandable Stajan would love nothing more than to start building momentum in his first full campaign for the Flames.

Oh, 100%. Its frustrating, Stajan admitted after Saturday afternoons 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh to the Penguins. You want to get comfortable and start getting on a roll after getting a feel for everything.

When you miss training camp, I never thought it would have this much of an effect, but it takes some time.

You get going and want to feel good and things to happen, and I was starting to feel it, but I missed a few games (on the trip).

Theres nothing you can do. You have to look forward and build on the few good things I did (Saturday) and move forward.

First, well step back and see how things have gone so far for the 27-year-old pivot acquired last season in the blockbuster trade which shipped Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But it has not gone according to plan.

Stajan, in the first season of a four-year, US$14-million contract, arrived for training camp feeling positive about his season, but suffered a separated shoulder in the first pre-season game.

He missed the first couple of regular-season affairs and was catching up to speed when he was sidelined again, this time with a sore neck after being clobbered with a highlight-reel open-ice check by New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal, although it could have been worse. How he avoided a concussion is impressive.

Just before the Rangers game, Stajan was starting to perform in the manner the Flames were hoping when they acquired him.

Stajan had a run of points in six games, an assist in each affair, and was plus-six in that span, which ran his season totals to one goal and 14 points.

Hes also a plus-five.

He returned to face the Penguins after missing two games and built up his game from start to finish.

After starting on the fourth line and playing less than three minutes in the opening period, Stajan was eventually moved back to the spot he had before that crushing check on a line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.

When the final buzzer sounded, he had played nearly 14 minutes, won 8 of 13 faceoffs, fired a couple of shots at the goal and even threw a couple of hits. The hits were as important as anything else, since they reaffirmed he was OK from the injury.

You want to get out there, but its always in the back of your head whenever you come back from any injury, whether its your shoulder, your head or your knee, but you get a few bumps in

I wanted to get hit early and by the end, I felt fine, he said. I wanted to get my legs going and generated some chances in the third (period). Its good to be back in.

The plan now is to not have another detour. The Flames can ill afford to have him on the shelf again.


Videos

Photos