March 04 2010 07:13PM
I get a chance to sit back and chat with Calgary Flames fans after each and every game the Flames play. It's a really enjoyable thing to do — it's a passionate group of fans; they love their team, and they hate to see the team they love play poorly. Which was why Wednesday's 4-0 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild was so disappointing.
Not to drudge up old demons here, but that was a garbage performance. You're in a tooth-and-nail playoff race and you come out with that? It was simply okay for half of it, and absolutely uninspired and listless for the other half. That's not acceptable into the final 20 games of the season and without a playoff berth assured.
Calgary pissed away points last year but had a 13 point cushion to do so. They have no cushion here, and to see that lack of inspired hockey on Wednesday was very disheartening from my pretty objective standpoint.
When taking calls on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the pulse was centered on two topics. Both of them happen to share a last name. It seems the Sutters (coach Brent; GM Darryl) are the two biggest things on the the minds of fans right now, with patience seemingly running out.
Let's start with the GM. The overwhelming sentiment seems to be that the signings, trades and shuffling he's done over the past two to three seasons has not been right for the team. The examples most commonly referred to? Well, the Phaneuf trade being the most recent. But, with hindsight being 20/20, there's been some questioning of other moves. A six-year contract for Rene Bourque, a long term deal for Daymond Langkow, giving up a first rounder for Olli Jokinen, and a $3.6 million cap hit on Cory Sarich are also frequently brought up.
As for the coach, it seems the system he's employing and the way he's running the team hasn't been met with a lot of positive fanfare. Comments of "He's stifling any offensive creativity" and "He's not letting them enjoy the game" have been brought up frequently all season, not just last night. The feeling among some seems to be that the coaching staff isn't utilizing some of their players correctly, and that the way Brent wants things done doesn't necessarily mesh correctly with the group assembled right now.
My opinion? Doesn't really matter. I don't blame the coach, not one bit. I don't think his system has anything to do with the woes being suffered by this Flames team. To me, it still goes back to the core group inside that locker room. Consistency has been the biggest issue for this team all year long. To me, that's not a coaching thing; it's a players thing.
Brent has sent every message to the team he can possibly send. It's just not happening. The group assembled right now has yet to show they can put it all together on the ice on a consistent basis> That's fact. They're five games below .500 since December 1st; they're five games below .500 in 2010. It's not good enough…and no one is going to argue with that.