Stajan ready for the 2013-14 season

Friday, 16.08.2013 / 10:21 AM
Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)

CALGARY, AB -- Matt Stajan knows there are a lot of questions surrounding the Calgary Flames heading into the 2013-14 season.

The roster is going to look completely different than years past with the likes of Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Cory Sarich, and Jay Bouwmeester gone, the goaltending situation is up in the air as Miikka Kiprusoff contemplates his future and the core identity of the club is shifting.

All of those changes are exciting to the 29 year-old. He views this season as an opportunity for every player to grow and progress. Individuals will have the chance to step into new roles and take on more responsibility.

"You have to take advantage of that," Stajan told Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Friday morning. "I think for us to be successful, we have to be a good team. We're not a team that is going to go out there and have two or three guys carry the load.

"For us to be successful, we need to have everyone going and be the hardest working team out there ... make our presence felt that way. If we do that, come playoff time, we could surprise a lot of people."

Stajan is coming a solid 2012-13 season which saw him register 5 goals and 23 points through 43 games. In the second half of the truncated campaign, he was logging a lot of minutes in a top six role, playing on a line with Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross. The confidence he had gleaned from the coaching staff, who put a lot of trust in the pivot from Day 1, was evident.

"Bob (told) me before the season that it doesn't matter what happened here, it's a fresh start and be ready for camp whenever we start. We'll go from there.

"I got an opportunity from the start and was happy to have confidence early from the coaching staff. I ran with it. I just want to keep building off that and playing a key role with this hockey club."

In addition to the changes happening at the team level, Stajan is also excited about the new NHL divisions and playoff format.

The Flames have been slotted into the Pacific Division with the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes. A couple of their old Northwest Division rivals - the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild - have been shifted into the Central Division.

Teams will also play all 29 other clubs at home and on the road at least once throughout the season.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will still consist of 16 teams, eight from each conference, but it will be division-based and a wild-card system has been added. The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, regardless of division, based on regular season points. It will be possible for one division to send five teams to the playoffs while the other sends three.

"It's exciting for the league," Stajan commented. "I think our division is one of the tougher ones ... we're going to have a lot of great challenges for us throughout the year but its exciting. Any time the league changes things up like that and we get to see everybody home-and-home in the league, it's just better for everybody.

"I could see maybe five teams from our division getting in with the cross-over rule because that's how strong I think our division is."

The Flames start the season on the road, playing the Washington Capitals on Oct. 3 and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 4. The home opener is slated for Oct. 6 when the Vancouver Canucks come to town.

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