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Win opens up teaching window for Gulutzan

The Flames spent Wednesday morning working on puck management

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- He stopped the drill.

Dropped a few choice words.

And then reset.  

"I'm generally pretty quiet as far as my demeanor, but when I get out on the ice and I'm teaching I'm passionate," started Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan. 

"There are teachable moments. If you ask any schoolteacher, there are teachable moments with your students. We had a really good meeting this morning. We had a good video session. We had some good energy.

"When you get out on the ice and there were mistakes being made that were made in the game. You've got to get them out and you've got to send a message that those mistakes won't be tolerated.

"But you move on from it. They got a little lax there. That was it. We move on and we keep going. But the message is delivered and they know they need to be better. Just looking around when I was delivering the message, I saw about five or six nods of agreement from a lot of the players.

"So we know." 

The teachable moment was about when to try to make a move and when to simply get the puck deep in the offensive zone.

Puck management. 

It's escaped the Flames at times to start the season, including in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres -- their first victory of the season.

"That's the biggest thing we haven't got ahold of here in the first four games that we've played is that we need to manage the puck better," Gulutzan said. "That's not saying we don't make plays. That's saying we make plays at the right time, and when we don't have numbers and we don't have situations at the blue lines where we can make a good play, we have to get pucks behind and live to fight another day.

"Those decisions aren't being made at the rate we should be making them at so we're letting them know that today."

There's still plenty of work to be done on that front.

It becomes easier to do with the first win of the season out of the way. 

"We were starting to tighten up in here a little bit," forward Troy Brouwer said. "You want to get that first one out of the way. You'd like to get it out of the way a little bit sooner. We've got a good group in here. Guys were staying positive, not getting down on each other. Hopefully we can just build from here.

"We're building towards something. Gully's been preaching since Day 1.

"The minute you try to change your identity or change the way you're playing then you've got to re-learn how to play. We want to play a certain style of game and we're building towards that and last night was sloppy at times, but we got a win out of it.

"We want to build more wins."

Calgary started the season 0-2-1.

The Flames hadn't gone winless in four straight to start a season since 1999-00, when Calgary opened up with three losses and a tie.

"You could feel it that we were pushing for that win and not really gripping it too bad, but there was some desperation, for sure," captain Mark Giordano said. "We needed that one. Anyway we could get it. We had a nice overtime win that can hopefully carry over.

"I think you'll see guys playing a lot looser and with a lot more confidence.

"To start the season it's a little different than the middle of the season. You haven't won one yet. We were pushing hard for that one. I really like the fact we had a lot of moments where we could've cracked and let the game get away from us … momentum and penalties and stuff.

"We stuck with it and found a way to get those two points."

Another lesson.

The win, Gulutzan's first behind the Flames bench, helped allow for one. 

"It's not always easy to teach when the morale is down," Gulutzan said. "You have to encourage. When the morale is up it's a good window for teachable moments.

"That's why there's a window to teach."

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