Hoping to shake their scoring woes when they take to the road, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley had one message for his players.
“Face adversity like a pro,” Hartley said. “It hasn’t been an easy week, that’s for sure, but at the same time, that’s part of a rebuilding program. You’re going to hit your bumps in the road.
“You have to react to them. You have to find solutions. I will not let no one use excuses, that’s for sure. The pace of this league will keep going up and we have to find a way to stay up with that pace. Working wise, I think we work hard enough but we have to work smarter and be better with our puck management.”
The Flames have found the back of the net just once in their past four games and have been shut out three times at Scotiabank Saddledome since Christmas.
“Team confidence, scoring-wise, I hope that I’m not giving you guys a big scoop is that it’s not very high. The only way we’re going to get at this is to make sure we stay together and we get a game where we can score three or four goals to get that good feeling back into us. That’s what we need.”
RAMO STARTING IN DENVER
After making 27 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Karri Ramo will make his second straight start Monday when the Flames take on the Colorado Avalanche.
The 27-year-old understands that he needs to be at his best with Calgary’s recent offensive struggles.
“Obviously it’s a tight situation,” Ramo said. “You just have to try to be as normal as you can be. Everybody’s working hard. It’s just a matter of getting a few bounces in and that’s it. In the net, you have to be there. That’s our job to keep it tight and try not to allow goals at the start of the game.”
Ramo and Reto Berra have combined to give up just eight goals in the past four games, stopping 98 of 106 shots along the way.
“Probably the last four games, we got three first-star performances from our goalies in my book, twice from Reto and last game from Karri, and we have nothing to show for it,” Hartley said. “For sure its disappointing. It puts pressure. They’re okay with it. They understand. They’re giving us a chance to win. That’s the only thing we can ask from those two guys right now and they’re giving it to us.”
PRIDE, BRAGGING RIGHTS RULE WJC FINAL
Though Ramo has shown little in the way of nerves on the ice of late, the goaltender admits watching his native Finland in the World Junior Championship has gotten him a little excited.
Ramo’s Finns are squaring off against Mikael Backlund's Swedes in the tournament final on Sunday. Sweden advanced to the final after beating Russia 2-1. Finland advanced after beating Canada 5-1.
“We’ve got a little bet going,” admitted Backlund, who caught some action after Sunday’s skate before hopping a plane for Colorado.
In a dressing room with 22 players, only Ramo and Backlund remain invested in the gold medal match.
“It’s kind of funny now because there’s only one Swede and one Finn,” Ramo said. “Which one is going to win is going to have bragging rights for a long time.”
With 20 teammates representing Canada, USA, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, Backlund doesn’t think he’ll exercise his bragging rights should Sweden conquer their rival.
“The guys can’t take it in here anyways,” he said. “I might as well be quiet. They get so grumpy. Canada hasn’t won a medal in a long time. The States lost in the quarterfinal. Guys won’t be happy. If I want to keep some friends on this team I might as well be quiet.”
The pair won't know who will have the right to boast until they touch down in Denver.
MONAHAN CONTENT IN CALGARY
Though he admitted to following the World Juniors, 19-year-old Sean Monahan isn’t upset he didn't go to Malmo to represent Canada.
“It’s the NHL so I think you learn something every day up here,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be. My goal was to make the team at the start of the year and obviously I think for them to keep me here instead of sending me to the World Juniors, it’s a pretty big honour.”
Monahan’s 11 goals trail only Mike Cammalleri’s 12 for the Flames' lead while the 6-foot-2, 185-pound pivot is tied for third on the team in points with 17.
“It’s because [Monahan]’s competing against the best hockey players in the world,” Hartley said. “The more that the season will progress, eventually, in the near future, you’re going to see him on PK. I don’t want to make him a one-trick pony. I want Sean Monahan to be the most complete hockey player in the NHL, the most complete centerman in this league. There’s going to be time when we put him in those situations so that he learns from them.”
The Flames fly to Denver to tackle the Avalanche on Monday (7 p.m. MT, SNET-W).