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Flames' Neal gets reality check; Gaudreau shrugs off playoff struggles

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CALGARY – One fizzled when it mattered most and one never even got started.

One owned it and one didn’t.

There are few things connecting the seasons James Neal and Johnny Gaudreau had other than their nightmarish finishes.

Their season-ending thoughts on their shortcomings were just as diverse.

While Gaudreau wasn’t interested in taking ownership of his part in the team’s five-game face plant, Neal did everything but apologize for his season-long absence.

"That was hard," said Neal of a seven-goal season that paid him the first $5.75 million of his five-year deal.

"I’ve never had to go through that in my career. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but for me, I think going forward, you take it and be honest with yourself. Now I have a chance to train in the summer and come back, and I have something to prove. The last three years, they’ve been good years [with back-to-back appearances in the Cup final] but, that being said, you don’t have time to take care of your body and train in the summer. So I’ll try to take the positive. I’m healthy, and this is a chance for me to get back to where I know I can be and where I feel like I should be."

Gaudreau, who followed up a career-high 99 points with one assist in the playoffs, took a different tack.

"Same game I’ve been playing all my life – one team played better than the other team," shrugged Gaudreau when........

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