Turnovers in their own end continue to haunt Flames
Hartley defends Kiprusoff in wake of yet another road loss
COLUMBUS — Standing in front of the TV-friendly, logo-infested black-and-red backdrop that’s beginning to resemble a shroud, Bob Hartley stumbled through another debris field of sqaundered opportunity and lethal lapses.
“Deja-vu,’’ muttered the Calgary Flames’ head coach of a 5-1 pasting administered by the - yes, wait for it ... - Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday evening. “Turnovers in our zone and the puck is in our net. There’s not much more to say tonight (than what was said) in Dallas and Nashville.
“It seems like our road recipe.
“We’ll find out that recipe doesn’t work too well for us.’’
The usual gaggle of guffaws inside their own zone once more condemned the Flames to a deserved fate at Nationwide Arena. They haven’t pried the full two points out of a road game since Feb. 17th (0-8-1). Defensive unawareness, blunders and brain-freezes and misreads and a lack of tenacity has this team all but eliminated from playoff contention.
In going winless over those nine starts, they’ve given up an obsence 38 goals.
Against the league’s most anemic offence, five more on Friday night, 14 conceded on this three-game road folly.
Such ongoing catastrophic errors, with a highly-experienced group?
“With T.J. Brodie, we can live with some rookie mistakes,’’ said Hartley. “With the veteran group we have, one thing we should have is poise. Poise and urgency. But no one does mistakes on purpose. I know this group. We’re with them. We have to find solutions. Solutions are within our locker room. We can’t find solutions anywhere else.’’
The question of nerves and buckling under the pressure isn’t an excuse, he added.
“I’m not in their body. We’re pros. We’re paid to face pressure, to face challenges, to play big games, face the media and face the fans. We’re in the entertainment business. That’s the job we chose. If they can handle it or can’t, I can’t answer those questions for them.
“If I’d know the answer to our problem, I’d fix it right away.’’
One individual he resolutely refused to condemn was goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. The former Vezina Trophy winner’s numbers are well below his norm, sure, but Hartley asks people to look at the extenuating circumstances.
“As a goalie, you’re always the last guy standing. But the chances we’re giving ... we can blame the goalie if that’s our wish but I don’t blame Miikka one bit. We don’t give him a chance and we’ve giving up point-blank chances. We’re in the NHL. Those guys know how to shoot pucks.’’
The boss is also clearly weary of trying to mine positives out of losses.
“Pushback is worth what it’s worth,’’ he scoffed. “When you push back and you win, you say that we’re building character and all the right things. But tonight, like the two other games, the other teams were simply better than us.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.’’
Considering the time of year and the stakes, the most damning condemnation of all.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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