“The practice was based energy and making sure that we focused on details,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “Making sure that defensively that we don’t miss any assignments, make sure that we’re sharp. It’s a time to get some mental and physical rest, but at the same time, we can’t be complacent.”
For some players the added time off might not be a welcome sight. For forward David Jones, the time off is a good thing.
“I like it. It’s nice to get a little bit of a break,” said Jones. “It’s a good time, right in the middle of the season here.
“I always think it’s good. More mentally than physically to get away from the game for a couple days and spend some time with family... you get home and kind of put hockey behind you for a couple of days and turn things off for a bit.”
One area of focus for the Flames is their special teams efforts.
In the month of January, the team has had 14 power play opportunities, but has only been able to capitalize on one of those chances.
“Obviously, special teams are so important,” Hartley said. “There are so many one-goal games that good penalty killing or a good power play can make the difference.
“Our power play has been real good since the start of the year, but over the past two or three weeks, we’ve hit a speed bump. It comes in waves and that’s what we’re facing. I’ve talked to many coaches over the past weeks like I always do, about my power play, that’s where we’re searching for solutions.
“We scored an ugly one against Florida, our last game here on Friday night, now we got a goal, we just have to keep moving forward.”
KEEPING UP WITH JONES
With the team set to begin a west-coast road trip on Thursday, Hartley expressed the need for physicality from his players.
“Especially going on that West Coast trip, there are no easy teams,” he said. “They’re all big, physical teams and you need big bodies.”
Jones can provide plenty of that physicality.
While the 30-year-old has assists in three straight games, he’s also added six hits in the same span.
“Jones is such a good player when his legs are moving,” Hartley said. “He’s a power forward, he’s a big body, can crush people, goes at the net hard and real well, he has a knack for finding loose pucks in the blue paint.”
Jones knows Hartley’s demands.
“I think that’s what they expect from me,” the 6-foot-2, 210-pound winger said. “Just to move my feet, finish checks, provide offense when I can, so I’ll just look to continue doing that.”
The physicality is a compliment to what Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau bring.
The trio combined for Calgary’s only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks and could skate together to start the upcoming road trip.
“You never know how things are going to work out, but Backlund’s good in the middle and he’s a shooter and a passer,” Jones said. “Johnny’s a passer and I’m more of a shooter, so we’ve been complimenting each other well so far.
“The speed is good though, we are able to get behind that third fore checker, create three on twos, which happened last game. So hopefully we can just keep doing that.”
Playing alongside Gaudreau, Jones has tried to keep his game simple and make sure that he is ready for Johnny to get him the puck.
“He’s one of those guys that can turn on a dime and fire the puck to you.” Jones said. “Every time he gets it, I just try to get to an area where I can shoot the puck. Hopefully we can continue having success here.”
A day after stating that he doesn’t like carrying three goaltenders, Hartley did not rule that out as a possibility when the team hits the road.
Joni Ortio, who was re-called when Karri Ramo sustained an injury last Wednesday, will be hard to send down after notching a shutout against the Canucks.
“Joni is fun to work with because he has lots of passion, lots of life, he believes in himself a lot and for a goalie that’s so important.” Hartley said. “His body language, you look at him, and he wants to stop pucks, he wants to contribute. Looking at his game in Vancouver, you could tell he was on his toes, he wanted to be a difference and that’s what you want from everyone. “
Hartley hasn’t settled on a starter for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, a contest that kicks off four straight road games before breaking for All-Star Weekend.
Ramo was on the ice with the other injured players this morning and could practice with the team as early as tomorrow and make the trip.
“He feels good, so most likely we could see him tomorrow with the team, which would mean that we would have three goalies on the ice for practice.” Hartley said. “I didn’t check with the medical staff yet, but based on what I saw, I’ve watched him and talking to the coaches he hasn’t complained about anything. So, I think he feels good.”
NOTES: Ramo did skate Tuesday, joining Sam Bennett and Josh Jooris on the ice in a session prior to the main group…Depending on the situation, Hartley didn’t rule out taking three goaltenders on the four-game road trip that starts Thursday in Arizona…The Flames currently have 22 players on the active roster.