The Calgary Flames were back on the ice Monday and the practice was noticeably up-tempo, physical and included plenty of skating following two losses on home ice.
Following a pair of setbacks, players on the Calgary Flames knew they were in for a rough practice on Monday.
After talking to his players for 10 minutes, Calgary head coach Brent Sutter spent the next 65 minutes putting his players through a series of intense drills and skating sessions.
“He wasn’t in a good mood,” said forward Dustin Boyd. “It was a hard practice. We need to just work harder and that’s what we did today.”
Following three straight home-ice victories over the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers, the Flames lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche last Wednesday before dropping a 3-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
“He wasn’t happy after the game (on Saturday) and we knew it was going to be hard today and it was,” said veteran forward Craig Conroy in regards to Sutter’s demeanor. “He was sending a message to say we’re not doing enough in practice, so obviously a lot of hitting today, a lot of battles.”
Afterwards, Sutter spoke to a large throng of media members who were on hand to watch the intense ice session.
“If we want to be a well-prepared team for games, we need to be a well-prepared team in practices to become that,” said Sutter, whose squad will head out on the road for games on Wednesday against the Dallas Stars and Thursday against the St. Louis Blues before returning home on Saturday to face the New York Rangers at the ’Dome.
“You’ve got to get something out of your practices to improve as an individual and improve as a team,” Sutter continued. “I’m not a coach that likes average practices, because you have exactly that, an average hockey team and average games.”
While he hasn’t been pleased with his team’s effort, Sutter noted that his players have been putting in the effort to get better.
“It had nothing to do with the group not caring,” he said. “The group cares. It’s just another part of the game that they have to learn and do it on a consistent basis. We want to be a good team and get the inconsistency away from it and become more of a consistent team.” LEARNING LESSONS
Forward Curtis Glencross
was one of the players that Sutter singled out for a sub-standard effort against the Wings on Saturday night.
“You happen to get singled out once in a while,” Glencross said. “You’ve just got to come back the next day and try to work on it and just work harder.”
Late in the second period against the Wings, Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk won a battle along the boards for the puck with Glencross and set up linemate Tomas Holmstrom for the game-winning goal.
“I thought I had more time than I did,” Glencross recalled. “I thought we were just going to do a quick transition and go the other way on a two-on-one or a three-on-two. He just picked my pocket. It happens. It was a breakdown on my part.”
Still playing on a line with Conroy and captain Jarome Iginla
, Glencross said he’s got to put the mistake behind him heading into Wednesday’s road game in Dallas against the Stars.
“I’ve just got to learn from it today,” he said. “We were doing that kind of stuff in practice today. You just learn from it and move on.” MAINTENANCE DAY
While the rest of their teammates were being put through the paces by the Calgary coaching staff, forwards Daymond Langkow and Eric Nystrom were resting up from minor injuries they sustained against Detroit.
“It’s just maintenance with them,” said Sutter, noting the pair were kept out of practice as a precaution. “I guess we’ll know come Wednesday whether they’re capable of playing or not, but I think it’s important to use these days and appropriate too as far as on the health side.” BACK-UP PLAN
While goalie Miikka Kiprusoff
is expected to start his eighth straight game on Wednesday night against the Stars, Sutter hinted that Curtis McElhinney will soon also see some game action.
“I want to see after our Dallas game and get a feel after that game exactly what we’re going to do,” Sutter said. “We have an idea. It’s always subject to change obviously.”
McElhinney has made just one appearance in net this season for the Flames, during a 5-2 loss at the Saddledome to the Stars on Oct. 9.
With 14 games in November - 10 of them on the road - Sutter said that the Calgary native will undoubtedly see some action to give Kiprusoff some much-needed rest.
“It’s important that your back-up goaltender plays well when he goes in and it’s important for your team to play well in front of him,” Sutter said. “It’s not night’s off when that happens. When your back-up goaltender plays, you have to dig in even moreso as a group.”