Numbers dont add up for Flames

CanWest News Service
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CALGARY - Given the plight of the Calgary Flames, it evolved into a numerologist's delight.
On Friday morning at Pengrowth Saddledome, it seemed there was something to tote up, to play down, to stew over or to single out.
Take, for starters, the medical visuals from a day at the rink:
2 - Everyday wingers missing from practice because of undisclosed injuries. David Moss sat out his third game Thursday. Nigel Dawes got dinged against the Chicago Blackhawks.
8 - Total stitches for Jay Bouwmeester - four on the nose, four on the eyebrow - after being clipped with a high stick by John Madden.
How about the Flames' flagging ways:
0 - Wins in the last six games; goals for Jarome Iginla in the past 10 games.
1 - Hot rumours. The Flames are said to be in the running for the rental of Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk.
"I don't get caught up in all the other stuff," said Flames coach Brent Sutter. "To be quite honest, you're speaking to the wrong guy."
The right guy, GM Darryl Sutter, was not available for comment.
"It's calving season," Brent Sutter said. "Maybe he's up there (at the family farm)."
9 - Their precarious slot on the Western Conference standings.
12 - Wins on home ice in 26 chances.
26 - Offensive ranking the NHL; power-play rank.
28 - Shot-per-game ranking.
Given the team's startling slide, Sutter was asked if he's worried about players beating up on themselves.
"You know, we probably deserve to have ourselves beaten up a little bit - let's not kid ourselves," he said. "But, again, it's how you handle it, how you respond to it, how you deal with it, so you can deal with the issues at hand. Hey, we've got to win games. It's urgent time.
"No one's happy here. We've lost six games in a row."
Sutter wants more offence from the team, and it needn't be flashy.
"It's not about drop-passes or the three-man weave, the two-man weave, and all this," he said. "At the end of the day, it's about straight lines, getting pucks to the net, and let's get there."
Sutter's own coaching handbook also provided points to ponder:
2 - Components of hockey.
"The game is about two things, you guys," said Sutter. "The game is about defence and offence, OK? But one should never ever come into question - that's defensive play. Never. It doesn't matter how much offence you have or how much offence you don't have, your defensive play should always be there. That was something I learned as a young guy going through major-junior hockey and playing as many years as I did in the NHL.
"You guys all cover sports, right? Look at NBA, NFL - and what does everybody say? They won because they were good defensively. Winning a game 1-0 - what's wrong with that?"
3 - Keys to the sport (competitiveness, intelligence, speed).
"You can add skill or whatever you want into that," said Sutter, "but if any one of those three things is missing, you're on the edge of failing."
If the post-season started tonight, the Flames would be on the outside.
"Today, you're out of the playoffs," said Bouwmeester. "There should have been a sense of urgency before, but now it's staring you right in the face. The way it is, it's so tight, if you're not winning, someone's jumping by you. And when you lose six in a row? There's probably a lot of teams that are going to do that.
"We're still right there. So if we turn it around, start playing the way we know we can . . . hopefully, this is the lowest of the lows and we can get on with it."

Organizations: Calgary Flames, NHL, Chicago Blackhawks Atlanta Thrashers NBA

Geographic location: CALGARY

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