BROSSARD, QC -- Hard work wins games.
They know it sounds repetitive but the Calgary Flames feel it bears repeating.
Player after player reiterated that point after their practice in Brossard on Wednesday morning. They can't just put forth the effort needed for the opening twenty minutes. They need to keep that compete level for the duration of the tilt or the losses are going to pile up.
"With everything, there's got to be work that comes with it," Alex Tanguay said firmly. "I think that if we look objectively at all the players on our team and the work that we've put into the first two games, we haven't worked hard enough. We haven't worked smart enough in order to have the success we did late last year."
Calgary has played well in the first twenty minutes of their first two games. But after the opening period concluded, their play waned. They looked unfocused. They weren't winning puck battles. They were out-shot - badly - through the final two periods of each game. There was simply no execution.
"I don't know if you could put your finger on it but I think our first periods, we've had some solid play," David Moss said. "In the second, for whatever reason, we have a letdown. I think maybe it just comes down to losing our focus a little bit and when things start to get away from you, the whole group starts to slip. That's something we can't afford to have happen."
The Flames didn't overhaul their roster over the summer. There was some tinkering to both the forward group and the defensive corps, but overall, the vast majority of the roster remains the same. So, it seems realistic that assume the team that managed to completely turn their season around in mid-December would come out with the same energy that transformed them from a basement-dwelling club to a team that just narrowly missed the post-season.
"Quite honestly, you look at our first two games in horror. It was horrible the first two games, the way we played," Tanguay said, shaking his head. "We all know it's possible. We know the talent in this dressing room is the same, if not better then what we were last year. So we feel confident about the opportunity and the ability for our team to do that. But to this point, we haven't done it."
Some have mused that perhaps all of that time in between their final preseason game and the start of the regular season killed off some of their energy but Tanguay shoved that reason aside, noting their lack of success thus far was simply a lack of effort and execution at key times.
"Tomorrow will be a week (since the regular season started) and we still have yet to have points on the scoreboard. We're starting to be a little desperate and we want to get going. We know we still have 80 games left. It's not a matter of time right now. It's just a matter of executing our game plan and play a little better."
The Flames showed commitment to putting in the effort needed to ensure they are a competitive team in the Western Conference on Wednesday when, after an hour-long skate, every player stayed on the ice after the group stretch to get in some extra practice as every individual deemed it necessary to put more time into certain aspects of their game.
"We had a chance to have a good practice here today and get ourselves ready for tomorrow," said associate coach Craig Hartsburg. "I think everybody is disappointed in how we played but also know that if we pull that consistent effort for 60 minutes, that's what we need."
Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson