The topic of Olli Jokinen's play down the stretch for the Calgary Flames is becoming an increasing louder conversation.
Jokinen doesn't want to be part of it, however.
"I don't really want to talk about myself. It's a team game, and it's about the team," the Flames centre said Saturday afternoon after a meeting at the hotel. "It doesn't really make any sense for me to say how I've been playing this year. All you guys have your own opinion, everybody's got their own opinion, but at the end of the day, it's about where the team is going to be after 82 games.
"All that matters is getting into the post-season."
Even though the Flames were still mathematically alive prior to puck drop for Saturday's clash with the Vancouver Canucks, everybody can take an educated guess Calgary's hockey heroes will be on the outside of the Stanley Cup tournament.
Therefore, the time has come to look toward next season.
Whether Jokinen, due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, returns is one of the biggest questions moving forward.
On one hand, the 33-year-old was the club's most consistent forward through three quarters of the season, and took a big leap forward to be a player who could excel at both ends of the rink.
But once the calendar flipped to March, it all fell apart.
He went into the Saturday's game with just one goal and one assist in the last 10 games, but that's only part of his struggles.
Jokinen was minus-13 in those 10 outings and has been a minus-2 in each of the previous four outings.
Tiger Woods would love to shoot 2-under in four straight outings at the Masters, but that's not the kind of numbers an NHL player wants.
"I think we struggled as a team. That's all I can talk about. We haven't played as good as we were playing three weeks ago," said Jokinen, who went into Saturday's game with 22 goals and 60 points in 79 games. "It's been a struggle, for sure. We haven't been scoring goals. We've given up goals. We haven't been able to win.
"Our line's been taking a lot of goals against, and we haven't been able to score. That wasn't the case the first 60 games, the first 65 games. After that, our line has been the one getting scored against."
Which may impact his contract situation after the season.
Jokinen reiterated his desire to remain in Calgary, but it remains to be seen whether the Flames or any other team are willing to sign him to a long-term deal. A month ago, it seemed a slam dunk he'd find a contract worth much more than the two-year, US$6 million pact he signed with the Flames in the summer of 2010.
All along, he's said he's not thinking about a contract, believing the situation will sort itself out when the time is right.
"Nothing has changed. Why would it change?" he replied.
What has is how Jokinen has struggled down the stretch when the Flames needed him most to put them into a playoff spot, although he's not alone in that regard.
"I try to play the hardest I can every night. It's an 82-game schedule. Everything will fall into place," he said.
"I haven't thought about it. It's my focus to play my best every night. I haven't thought about what next year's going to bring. I haven't thought about what tomorrow's going to bring.
"It's day-by-day. That's how I approach life and how I approach the game. You move on and try to do your best the next day. That's all you can do."
Besides, the past has quite a bit to lament.
"It's been a roller-coaster all year. We fought back like we did last year, came back and put ourselves in a position when there was time to make a push and were able to do that," Jokinen said. "Looking back, it's not necessarily the last 10 games. Look at the times this year we were one game below .500 and that next step was there, but then we weren't able to bring it.
"That's been the story here the whole year."
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