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Flames looking to channel emotions productively

Glen Gulutzan is asking his team to use their emotions to their advantage and get their season back on track

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH /

CALGARY, AB -- When they skate, each and every one, onto the ice at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN on Tuesday evening, Glen Gulutzan will be asking for energy, emotion, clarity, authority.

 And anger.

Channeled in the right way, of course. But anger nonetheless.

At their play. At their record. At their professional lot in life at this particular moment in time.

He wants them channeling their inner Peter Finch, taking to heart the famous Oscar-clinching speech from the biting satirical comedy film Network:

"Get up our of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out and yell, and say it:

"I'm mad as hell as I'm not going to take this anymore!"

He wants them irked. Irate. Incensed. Vexed. Indignant.

Fed up. To the teeth.

No more being tentative. Treading on egg-shells. Waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. No more, as he'd referenced it earlier in the week, "playing the victim."

Initiate, don't react.

A Sunday off turned into practice day for the Calgary Flames, 11:30 AM, in the wake of a fourth consecutive loss, 4-1 to the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"I liked,'' said Gulutzan, post-skate Sunday, "that we didn't quit in the third.

"I didn't think we played better in the third. Everybody says we played better in the third. We didn't play better in the third. They had a four-goal lead in the third. They dropped a degree or two and we held our tempo.

"So it looked like we were better.

"But we didn't play better.

"What I didn't like is that we weren't mad until the third. When you're losing at home like we are, you have to be mad from the beginning.

"That was a bit of our message today."

The Ranger game followed a somewhat altered script from the recent norm. On a night the Flames cut down on penalties (whistled for only two minors) and actually won the special teams arm-wrestle, their strong suit thus far, five-on-five play, fizzled.

"It's like you plug one hole and another one leaks, right?'' sighed Gulutzan. "We're trying to get this all together at the same time.

"But the specialty teams were encouraging. If we're talking about that specific area of the game."

During Sunday's skate, right winger Troy Brouwer, one goal in 11 games, had been bumped up onto the No. 1 line alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. On the good news front, freshman Matthew Tkazhuk (cut hand) was back at work and is expected to be back in harness to face the Wild.

But the collective mindset, the desire to pull themselves out of their current plight, was the overriding message.

Gulutzan may look like the guy at the Help Desk at your local library but, as he's said often during his short stay here, there's a certain underlying snap-ability to help balance the bookishness.

 "I think if you ask our guys, ask every one of them, I would hope they'd say I'm logical but, 'Does he get mad? Absolutely he does.'

"I've got an Irish mother.

"I don't like to carry it around. I don't like being grumpy for five days but we all know what the Irish are like when they get mad.

"The (Hockey Night in Canada segment) After Hours pointed that out to me when they showed that clip of me on bench.

"I'm not gonna drag it. I yell. It's done. It's instant. And guys know where they stand and we move on.

"I don't take any of it personally and I'd like to develop a relationship with my players that they know if I'm coming after them or angry with them or challenging them or I'm in their face, I care about them and I want them to be better."

Being better, pulling themselves back into mix - the first order of business is to address, to snuff, an increasing exasperation level.

"Everyone shows their frustration differently, right?'' asked Gulutzan. "Some guys break their sticks, some guys take it home with them and keep it inside. Everybody does it differently.

"But you can see it's affecting our group and all our players.

"I think there's a number of things that can happen. Someone steps up. Look at Dallas coming in here. They weren't feeling good about themselves and Jamie Benn steps to the plate. Maybe your goalie stops 42 for a shutout.

"Whatever it is.

"Sometimes it's a break. A post, back the other way and it's in the opposition's net. But collectively, if you can move up a percent or two in how you're approaching games, your focus and your intensity, you usually create your own breaks."

Energy. Emotion. Clarity. Authority. And, yes, anger.

Right from the get-go.

"Everyone,'' said Gulutzan matter-of-factly, "has got to look at themselves and say, 'I'm going to bring my best tonight.'

"If you're competitor, if you hate to lose, you're going to get mad and want to stop it.

"So I think that can be there from the beginning. Easily."

And must be, Tuesday evening at the Xcel Energy Centre.

Mad as hell.

And not willing to take it anymore.

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