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LOOKING FORWARD

Gaudreau: "We make mistakes. I'm a young guy and I've got to learn from this."

by GEORGE JOHNSON @georgejohnsonCH / calgaryflames.com

Johnny Gaudreau faced a semi-circle of interrogators in front of his stall post-practice Tuesday outfitted in invisible firefighter's gear and toting an imaginary high-pressure hose.

The only way to extinguish any perceived brushfire before it was allowed to catch, spread and smoulder out of control.

The pocket sorcerer has become accustomed to attention.

Just not of this flame-retardant variety.

"That's a play, a turnover, I can't make,'' Gaudreau acknowledged of the ramifications of a miscue in the second period Monday night that remained the talking-point a day following that 5-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. 

 "A 1-0 game. Tight game.

"Next thing you know it was 2-0.

"Kind of a broken play there. I pull it up along the wall. I was trying to look for a D coming in and they were changing. So I kinda got stuck out there.

"I tried to get it in deep and then lost the puck, kinda got tangled in there with I think it was (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson. And they ended up scoring.

"I probably should've got the puck in deep. I tried to pull up and make a play.

"It wasn't the right play."

That gaffe - one of a boatload of 'em by a variety of culprits the whole game long - led directly to a Christian Dvorak tally and doubled the Flames deficit. 

It also prompted coach Glen Gulutzan to drop his most imaginative, dynamic offensive commodity down to the fourth line - in the minds of many something akin to relegating Laurence Olivier to a dinner-theatre stage.

"It was demotion, not a benching,'' corrected Gaudreau. "I still got to go out and play.

"I still got some chances with the fourth line there. We had some good looks.

"I don't care who I play with as long as I'm on the ice, trying to make plays and help this team win."

Gulutzan was adopting a tempest-in-a-teapot attitude over the whole affair.

"Are we in a Canadian market?" he joked to the assembled media mob.

"Hey, it's hockey. I talk with all my players. We have an open dialogue with our group, about everything.

"I'm not worried about Johnny's reaction. He's a great pro. We're all trying to get to the same spot here. We're a family in that room. We really are.

"Like I've said to all the guys, at least once or twice: if my kid has a bad report card or makes mistakes and I've got four (kids), I tell them all at once because that way I don't have to tell the other three.

"It wasn't really the turnover. It was the shift length and the change. He's got to learn from that. We all do those things.

"It's awareness. Where you are in the shift. Where you are in the game. We talk about it all the time."

For Tuesday's skate, all was back in place, Gaudreau reinstated to his accustomed spot on the right flank alongside Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer.

So the Flames' marquee man wanted to quickly put to rest speculation about any sort of simmering rift between he and the boss.

"It's something,'' Gaudreau said, "that me and him have talked about before. You've got to be smart trying to make plays.

"He gives me a lot of leeway to try and create plays.

"At that time of the game, it wasn't the time to do that. So he (shuttled) me down to the fourth line. I still got some chances with the fourth line there. We had some good looks.

"We make mistakes. I'm a young guy and I've got to learn from this. 

"We have a good relationship, me and Gully. We talked for a half-hour this morning when I got to the rink. Not even all about hockey. We talked a little bit about our families and stuff. Tried to brighten the mood up in the locker room.

"That's the kind of relationship you need to have with your coach."

Gaudreau was eager to put Monday's unpleasantries behind him and look ahead.

 "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself.,'' said Gaudreau, eager to put Monday's unpleasantries behind him.

"We've got a lot of players in here that can score. We've learned that this season from Backs's line and Steeger and some of those guys.

"Takes a little bit off my shoulders. I'm just trying to play my game, like I have all my life.

"There's a long rest of the season here, 25-26 games left and we're neck-and-neck with teams in the wild-card race."

 

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