| March 22, 2010
The Calgary Flames were subjected to a scary sight on Sunday afternoon when veteran forward Daymond Langkow was the victim of a fluke accident that led to him spending the night at a Minnesota hospital.
During the second period, Langkow was checked by Greg Zanon while standing in front of the net, causing him to fall forward just as Flames defenseman Ian White had shot the puck from the blue line. As he was falling, the puck struck him right below the back of his neck and he landed on the ice on his head.
"It's just tough timing," Cory Sarich sighed. "He's getting hit, the shot's coming, he's trying to get out of the way - you do whatever you can to not eat that puck - and it hits him in a tough spot."
He lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before being taken out of the arena on a stretcher.
"I think everyone was just scared," David Moss said of the thoughts running through the team's heads as they saw Langkow hit the ice. "Not knowing what was going on, not seeing him move was a scary moment."
The team wasn't aware of his status until the end of the second period when they found out Langkow was alert and had a full range of motion. He ended up spending the night in Minnesota before being flown home on Monday.
The Flames released this update on Monday afternoon: "The Calgary Flames would like to provide the following injury update on forward Daymond Langkow:
Langkow will be out of the Flames line-up indefinitely after suffering a neck injury in a game on Sunday, March 21st at Minnesota."
During the game, the team was able get back into the swing of things after Langkow was taken out of the building. White scored just minutes after play resumed and assistant coach Dave Lowry said that while it was a frightning sight, he was proud of how the team reacted.
"I think any time you see a player that’s taken off on a stretcher obviously it plays on your mind. I thought our guys did a real good job of regrouping and coming back and knowing the importance of what we had to finish."
Sarich did acknowledge that even though hockey is a physical sport, incidents like Langkow's makes players think twice.
"You never want to see that. It's scary, especially when it's a teammate and a guy you're close with. When stuff like that happens in hockey, it really makes you think 'I'm out there playing a sport when terrible things like that happen.' It's freaky and really scary. I'm just glad to hear he's doing well and that's the main thing."
The Fan 960 radio reported on Monday afternoon that Langkow returned to Calgary and was wearing a neck brace. He was to undergo further examination from team doctors.
The Calgary Flames just finished playing a matinee game and will two this weekend, Saturday and Sunday in Boston and Washington respectively.
Cory Sarich said the preparation is slightly different.
"You prepare the same way as a night game. You just don't have a pregame skate. You get up, you get a stretch in and you try to get into the game as quick as you can," he said.
"We certainly haven't been a team that has traditionally played a lot of afternoon games but this time of year, it doesn't really matter," added Moss. "You're going to play at whatever time it's being played and both teams have to go through it."
One day at a time
The Flames are in a do-or-die situation every game and while a one-goal loss can potentionally be devastating to a team that's scratching and clawing for a playoff spot, Sarich said the old cliche 'One day a time,' is one the team needs to live by.
"Today is a fresh day. You come here and you prepare that way. You just get focused for tomorrow. What's in the past is in the past and that's how you have to approach it. If you dwell on what has gone on, especially the negative stuff, you'll never get anything accomplished going forward."
He admitted that days after losses are hard on players but the Flames are sticking together.
"Some days it is tough to let go of stuff but we try to do it as a team. As a whole, we try to stay on top of each other to stay positive at looking ahead to what we have to do."
Staying level-headed is one of the toughest aspects but forward Eric Nystrom was quick to point out that the team doesn't have a choice in the matter. They need to stay calm as they head down the stretch drive.
"We want to make it, so we’ve got to forget about yesterday and look forward to the next one tomorrow night. That’s they only way you can go about it. If you get caught dwelling on losing, you’re not going to be prepared for the next game which is always huge."
Some players said that they choose not to look at what other teams are doing as it took their minds off the Flames game but Nystrom said he was taking a look at the scoreboard every night.
"I definitely take a peek to see what the other teams are doing. Obviously that doesn’t even matter, because it comes down to how we play. Even if it’s November I’m always looking at the scoreboard, so that hasn’t changed. We can control our own destiny, so it’s up to us to do what we’ve got to do."
Finding offense from all areas
Calgary was able to find the back of the net three times on Sunday and had several good scoring opportunities in Minnesota but weren't able to produce the elusive tying goal to at least secure a point in regulation. On Monday, players talked about sticking to the game plan of getting as many shots, from as many angles as possible, at the net.
"This time of year, teams are focusing on defense," Moss said. "You've got to get pucks there and get players there - on the power play, the same thing. Last game we just gave up a couple ones that we made some mistakes (on) and couldn't bury one when we needed to at the end."
The Wild were able to control the Flames forechecking cycle for a good portion of the game and Moss admitted the team was trying a little to hard to make fancy plays instead of just firing the puck on the net.
"I think when you're trying to make the perfect play, sometimes a lot of passes get broken up as opposed to get pucks in from everywhere. That's something that we've been pretty good at recently but last night we got away from it and when we tried to get back at it in the third period, it was just too late."
The Flames take on the Ducks on Tuesday, Mar. 23 at 7:00 p.m. MST on Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.