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Flames take light approach with optional Friday

The team is ready to host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY - Attendance was minimal. 

Four skaters. Two goaltenders. Three coaches.

But what seemed to be an optional skate for the Calgary Flames on Friday morning following a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night was more about refocusing off the ice. 

Not on it.

"We were in that game pretty much for most of it even though we didn't have one of our better nights," forward Kris Versteeg said. "We understood that. 

"Be ready for Edmonton. 

"That's what today was about. Rest up.

"Get excited about tomorrow's game."

Yesterday's game wasn't pleasing for the Flames.

Calgary fell behind Nashville 4-0 before scrambling back with three goals in the final four minutes to put a rosier spin on the setback.

"It wasn't really what we wanted," Versteeg said. "We had a couple breakdowns. All in all I think we played a solid game actually and kind of kept ourselves in it. 

"We have to put it behind us now and be ready for an extremely hungry team Saturday and we're going to be really hungry too.

"We're excited about tomorrow's challenge."

Calgary will host the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday in the final Battle of Alberta this season. The Oilers, who have won the first three meetings this season, enter action against Nashville on Friday with a six-point gap on the Flames with one game at hand.

Friday's off day will be Saturday's benefit.

"It was a call by myself," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "You have two options when you're playing every second night in this league.

"Some teams aren't coming to the rink on game days. They're just coming for the games. 

Some teams don't practice between the games. They just have morning skates.

"We practiced on Wednesday. We practiced Monday. I just felt today we were going to have a team morning skate tomorrow and come out hard.

"I felt we've practiced enough in between games. We needed to just take a day here, do a little bit of maintenance, have a little morning skate, and get ready to play." 

The players get Gulutzan's approach. 

"He's a guy that guys respect a lot as a coach," Versteeg said. "He manages people extremely well. He wants the best out of everybody. 

"He's been great at doing that for us this season. Hopefully tomorrow shows and proves him right."

For those taking roll call, defenceman Brett Kulak and forwards Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland and Freddie Hamilton joined goaltenders Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott in the skate.

The light turnout is all about management. 

With eyes on the Oilers on Saturday night. 

"It's managing the guys as a whole and managing bodies and making sure everybody's hungry and ready and knows what their main focus is for tomorrow," Versteeg said. 

"There should be no excuses for tomorrow night. That's what you want.

"You want no excuses and no reason to think twice.

"That was what today was about. 

"We should be ready for tomorrow."

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