Intensity was the theme of the Flames' practice following their pre-season setback to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Despite leading 3-1 after the first period, they allowed four unanswered goals and fell 5-3 to their Pacific Division rivals.
"We've gotta get some of the summer hockey habits, and possibly the 'it's just going to happen' habits out of our system," head coach Glen Gulutzan said following the team's up-tempo practices on Thursday.
"My whole thought process coming into the hockey season from the summer was it's not just going to happen. We've done a lot of exciting things, yeah, that's great; our guys have come in in fantastic shape, that's another plus, obviously. They're excited and they use that as fuel in the summer, but it's not just going to happen.
"You could write a laundry list of teams that people expected to do great things and then it didn't happen. You've got to make it happen," Gulutzan stressed. "That's been our message from the first day of camp. That was my message today, that just because we think we're better doesn't mean we're better, because we're in better shape doesn't mean we're going to be better players. We have to have the mentality that we're coming here to work and that was the message today."
Troy Brouwer, who did not play Wednesday night, noted that the message got through, and it's time for the veterans to pick up the pace.
"You don't want to get into a situation where you're kind of limping into the regular season. Last year we had a little bit of an issue at the beginning of the season and as a result we almost missed the playoffs, and so we want to come in with a strong start to the season, and it does start in pre-season," he said.
"For some of the older guys it's not always fun to play those pre-season games, but we have to understand that we were there at some point, too, trying to make the team. And even now, we're trying to fight for positions within the team as well."
The impressive performance of some of the Flames' younger players hasn't escaped anyone's notice, either.
"There's some young guys here that are playing real well that want to take your spot," Brouwer said. "So we need to, as older guys, make sure that we're setting the tone and making sure that we show the young guys how pre-season and the start of the season are supposed to be played."
And just as Gulutzan is watching for those players making a name for themselves in exhibition, he's also well aware of those who he expects more out of.
"I think some guys separated themselves," Gulutzan said of his team's effort against the Canucks. "Some guys put themselves in a bad spot in my opinion, and may or may not get another game, so we'll see how that goes."