| January 20, 2010 |
|All about the details |
After yesterday's afternoon filled with player-coaches meetings and an off-ice training session, the Calgary Flames hit the ice for the first time since Monday's loss to the San Jose Sharks.
The hour-long skate was delayed for 10-15 minutes after a pane of glass was shattered by the penalty box (Eric Nystrom and Brandon Prust provided some relief to the Saddledome staff, sweeping up shards and shovelling into the garbage bin), but after that brief interuption, the team got down to business.
There was no screaming, no sticks being broken and no bag skates held. Instead, the Flames worked on skills and details, skating hard and yelling out praise for teammates when a goal was scored or a great play was made.
"I think we addressed it yesterday in our meeting," said winger Nigel Dawes of the loss. "We've got to move forward. Obviously it was an embarrassing game but we don't have time to sit back and think about it. We've got the next best team coming in here to play us tomorrow and we've got to be ready for them."
Fan reaction to the loss ranged from general dismay to people calling for certain players heads. Dawes that while he understood why fans would dwell on a loss like Monday's, the team could not afford to do so.
"The fans, they go and watch and they're free to do what they like but hopefully we can come out here tomorrow and make them forget our last couple games."
Robyn Regehr said that while bag skates have their time and place, at this moment, the Flames needed a practice just like the one held today.
"We worked on things out there that we need to improve on in the game," he said. "The easy thing would be to probably just line guys up and make them skate down and back down the ice. That’s really something that’s a very short-term fix. For us, we have things that we need to work on. That’s what we did today and that’s what we need to do in order to win games. We need to execute the way that we’re practising.
Several players have been stuck in scoring slumps and the team took part in a lot of drills that required them to get the puck on net and dig for the rebounds. Dawes that these types of activities are what helps get players back to their scoring ways.
"I don't know if there's any secret solution because if there was, I'm sure everyone would be doing that," he smiled when asked if there's a way players find their groove and get back to scoring. "It's just getting pucks on the net and working hard for those second and third opportunities. It might not be a tap in or the nice passing play but if one goes off your leg or you tip one, you get a rebound or something like that, sometimes that's all you need to get started."
Getting ready for the Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks pose a big challenge for the Flames and every player knows that the visitors will be looking to capitalize on the team's recent woes.
"They're a strong team. We've got to get things going right off the bat, we've got to be physical and we've got to just play our game," blueliner Cory Sarich said. "We've got to get back to it and that's a north-south hockey game. Get pucks behind their d-men and like I said, be physical."
The Blackhawks have won both games played in the four-game season series. The first saw them back an unbelievable comeback from a five goal deficit, eventually overtaking the Flames 6-5 in overtime. The second was a game the Flames would rather forget as Chicago thumped them 7-1 in the Saddledome.
"We’ve had trouble playing them lately since I’ve been here," said Rene Bourque. "They have a pretty good record against us. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. After the last game, I think the guys will be ready to respond."
Also adding to the intense rivalry is last season's playoffs. The Blackhawks ousted the Flames after six games in the opening round of the post-season.
"We've got some history with these guys from last year and now spilling into this year," said Sarich. "We want to make good on it. We want to get things going in the right direction."
Former Blackhawk Bourque said that the team was using past grievances as ammunition tomorrow night.
"Any time you get beat that bad in your own barn, it’s embarrassing," he said. "We want to make this place a tough place to play and lately we haven’t been. That’s something we’ve got to change if we want to make to make a push through the second half of the season."
There were several Flames connections to the Olympic Torch run in Calgary on Thursday. Flaqmes VP of Marketing Jim Bagshaw carried the torch as did Jarome Iginla's wife, Cara. And color commentator on the Fan 960, Mike Rogers, was on hand to watch his daughter run with the torch...Sutter is urging his players to get back to a team game. "There is only one name on the jersey and it is the one on the front," said Sutter. "It's not about one person. It's about everybody. I am not coaching one player. I'm coaching a group."
"It doesn’t really matter what’s happened up until this point and that’s the truth. We just have to go forward and be a consistent team from here on in." - Mark Giordano on the team's philosophy from here.
"We were just brutal as a team. You go through the whole lineup and there's really no one you can point out that had a very good game. When you don't have anybody going, the other team looks pretty good." - Sarich on the entire team's performance on Monday.
"Enough is enough." - Head coach Brent Sutter on the team's five-game losing streak.