EDMONTON, AB -- Glen Gulutzan didn't mince words when asked about this morning's team briefing, following the Calgary Flames' 2-1 setback to the New Jersey Devils last night.
"It wasn't an easy meeting. It was a hard meeting and it should be a hard meeting because we were terrible," he said bluntly.
"That's not taking anything away from New Jersey, I thought they played a really good game. They played a really good, strong, structured game but our compete level wasn't near where it could be and that's what kind of sets a coach off."
The good news?
The team can redeem themselves less than 24 hours after the final horn went on that lacklustre loss to the Devils.
The Flames are in Edmonton for the third installment of the Battle Of Alberta, ready to get back to work and close the gap between themselves and the Oilers.
Calgary holds the first Wildcard spot in the Western Conference with 48 points on the year. The Oilers are third in the Pacific Division with 51 points on the year. Being able to pull within a single point of their provincial foes and rebound from last night's game make this evening's game would be the perfect way to cap off the week.
"We've got to get our energy up and that won't be hard because it's a huge game that a lot of people are excited about, including us," Matt Stajan exclaimed. "I think we've just got to play as a five-man unit, make sure their speedy guys are in front of us, play above the puck.
"We've got to establish a better forecheck than we had last night and play our system the way it needs to be played. I think you've got to rely on your teammates. Everybody's got to do a job. Don't let the guy next to you down and support the puck all over. If we can do that, and win the special teams battle, we'll be sitting pretty.
"But it's easier said than done and we've got our work cut out for us because we've got to prove after the game we had yesterday ... we weren't happy with it."
As Stajan noted, this year's rendition of the Battle Of Alberta has a different feel to it as compared to recent years.
Both teams are in the playoff mix. Both teams have plenty of young, skilled players making their mark in the league at an early age. Both teams have their respective cities buzzing with excitement and Gulutzan can see the rivalry getting back to the level he remembers from his childhood.
"I grew up in Saskatchewan so we had our choice of Edmonton or Calgary and I was on the Calgary side," Gulutzan said. "I just remember going to school and it was when the playoffs were on. Joel Otto, Messier, Peplinski ... it was just red and blue at the school at the time. A lot of barbing at recess, a lot of Oiler and Flames jerseys and the Battle of Alberta was alive in Saskatchewan - at least in Hudson's Bay it was."
For many players, on each side, tonight's game is something they haven't experienced - the Battle Of Alberta with both teams in a playoff spot. The last time the two clubs were both in the postseason dance? 2006.
It's one thing to hear about the Battle Of Alberta and its storied history. It's another to be involved in it at this level, with both teams clawing their way up the standings and defending playoff spots.
"It will be an exciting game," Both teams, in the past few years, haven't been where we wanted to be," Mikael Backlund noted. "Now it's high-stakes games. A lot of years we've played, both teams came in on long losing streaks so it will be a fun game tonight."
"I think people have been waiting for both teams to be better and be in this position," Stajan added. "These games are just going to be more and more intense. It's Hockey Night, guys are excited. They're the team we love to hate. We'll be ready and it will be a fun one.