The Calgary Flames returned from a two-game road trip with plenty to think about. Having lost two straight, which prompted a visit to the dressing room from general manager Darryl Sutter in Dallas Tuesday, players were calm and confident that, with a few minor changes, they will get back into the win column.
The players were back at the Pengrowth Saddledome for off-ice workouts in preparation for Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks and, as expected, answering enquiries from the media about the general manager's visit to the dressing room the prior evening.
"I think it is just the truth," said forward Craig Conroy. "We haven't been playing well on the road. For whatever reason we haven't been able to find ways to win like we have at home. We come out, we play well here. On the road we have not had that success."
Conroy noted that just prior to Sutter closing the door to talk with his team, captain Jarome Iginla had done the same thing.
"It's always has that meaning," said Conroy of Sutter's visit. "It's like a wake-up call. Jarome had a meeting just before that and pretty much said the same thing. It's not like something we hadn't heard or didn't think about as players. It's just that we heard it twice."
The Flames are 11-11-1 on the road but are 19-5-3 at home. Conroy and defenceman Robyn Regehr said the team isn't in need of a major fix. More like a little tune-up to being putting W's back on the board.
"We just have to regroup. We have to pretend it is the San Jose Sharks and come with that mentality that we are going to outcompete them at every spot. Right now we are being outcompeted in some spots and they are capitalizing on their opportunities," said Conroy. "Obviously the penalty kill hasn't been good enough. The power play has been good. If we can get that turned around we'll get this worked out,"
The Flames are at home for three games, beginning Thursday with a game against Chicago. Anaheim comes calling Saturday afternoon and Monday the Montreal Canadiens are in town. After that the Flames head on the road for games in Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
While much of the talk has been about the road record, Conroy said the team will begin any turnaround at home.
"He (Sutter) pretty much laid everything on the line and that we have to be better on the road. But we also want to be good at home. We want to come in (Thursday) and win against a team we have not been particularly good against. Then we have to move forward and prove to ourselves...and everybody that we can win on the road."
The Flames have not beaten the Hawks in three tries this season -- they have lost two games in Chicago in regulation and one in overtime at home.
"Everyone goes through periods where they are evaluated," said Regehr. "He (Sutter) wasn't happy and he let us know."
But, sitting safely atop the Northwest Division with their nearest competitor, Vancouver, 10 points back, it is hardly time to tear down what has already been built this season.
"We have to make sure we know where we want to go and we have to stay on track. We have to make some minor changes. It's not a major overhaul. It's doing the small things over and over," said Regehr.
The Flames and Hawks game Thursday begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on TSN and The Fan 960.