Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flames' Russell: We Can Piss and Moan or Go to Work

At 1-4 with a minus-9 goal differential, the Calgary Flames are in that danger territory that could leave them on the outside of the playoff picture looking in by Thanksgiving. As many a hockey historian points out, being a non-playoff team by late November oftentimes parlays into early tee times come April. It's something the Calgary Flames don't want to ponder just yet, but after last night's shellacking in the battle of Alberta, the situation calls for some desperation in the room.

More: Two Looks at Hiller's Highway Robbery on McDavid

“It’s not Xs and Os at this point," said defenseman Kris Russell, according to the Calgary Herald. “It’s individually, we’ve got to want it more. Each and every draw we’ve got to win the 1-on-1s. When a teammate falls, we’ve got to pick him up, we’ve got to be there to support... Right now, we’re not."

He added: “There’s two things we can do. We can piss and moan about it or we can go to work. But we’ve been saying that for a while. We’ve got to quit talking. We’ve got to prove something here."

In 2014-2015, the Flames ended the first quarter of the season at a 12-6-2 clip. This was a team that was picked by many to be a cellar dwellar and was bent on proving the pundits wrong. They did that in a big way, and even won a playoff series last spring, which caused them to open this campaign with much higher expectations.

Could those expectations be too much for this still-developing group?

"Obviously our compete level is not there," said Flames' coach Bob Hartley. "Our game right now is not there. Tonight, we got out-played, we got out-worked, wo got out-hustled. You have no chance to win in this league when you're like this. Last night we gave it away late, and tonight we didn't even show up."

Whatever ails them, Calgary will need to shape up in a hurry. Their next four games will see them face the Caps and Red Wings at home, before going to face the Rangers and Islanders on the road.

But Hartley is not about to join the pity party. "I have too much trust in our guys to even go there," he said when asked if he thought it was complacency that was dragging them down. "I think right now we're just searching our game. It seems like we never got our chemistry going at training camp, but we need better efforts."