BOCA RATON, Fla. – The sun came up the day after another crushing loss for his Calgary Flames, but that didn’t make things any easier for general manager Brad Treliving.
The Flames fell six points out of a Western Conference playoff spot with Monday’s 5-2 loss in Arizona. They’ve only got eight regular-season games remaining and might need to run the table for a chance to get in.
“Probably what you’d imagine,” Treliving said Tuesday at the NHL’s GM Meetings, when asked how he felt about the team’s recent performance.
“It’s been a tough stretch for us. It’s put us in a real tough spot and it’s frustrating. So we’ll get ready for our next one (Wednesday against Anaheim). But we certainly put ourselves in the position where the hill is that much steeper and we’re going to have to address some things.”
It may already be too late.
The Flames have gone 3-7-1 since late February and are now playing without Matthew Tkachuk because of an upper-body injury. Top goaltender Mike Smith has also struggled since returning from a month-long absence due to a lower-body issue.
Tensions are running high.
Last week, cameras recorded head coach Glen Gulutzan dropping several expletives during practice in an effort to spark his players – although Treliving rightly took issue with that being labelled a “blow-up.”
“He’s like any other coach, he’s trying to find solutions right now and he’s working away at it,” said Treliving. “Like I said, it’s been a disappointing stretch. We’ve underperformed, no question. We’ve underperformed. I’m not ready to sit here and give last rites and start doing the post mortem.
“We’ve still got hockey to play, but it’s certainly disappointing and especially recently with the slide we’ve been on.”
Compounding matters for the organization is the fact they’re built to win now.
Treliving was aggressive following a first-round loss to Anaheim last spring, dealing away a first-round pick and two seconds to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic while also acquiring Smith from Arizona and signing Jaromir Jagr as a free agent.
That first-rounder is for this June’s draft and wasn’t lottery protected by Calgary, which means there’s an outside chance it could win the No. 1 overall pick and see it transferred to the Islanders. As it stands now, the Flames don’t own any selections until Round 3.
Suffice it to say that management is as surprised as most onlookers about the direction this season has gone.
“Well you can be shocked all you want – we are where we are,” said Treliving. “A wise man once said you are what your record says you are. So that’s where we’re at.”