After a 6-1 whipping at the hands of Edmonton on Tuesday, Brent Sutter put his foot down on “stinkers.”
That’s the Calgary coach’s term, not ours — but clearly in reference to his team’s penchant for completely disappearing in certain games. When the Flames have lost big this year, they’ve lost BIG: 9-0 to Boston, 5-1 to Vancouver (twice!) and the most recent skunking against the Oilers, which happened at home, no less.
Calgary has 22 games left to work its way into the playoffs. As such, Sutter says stinkers can’t happen anymore.
“I just want their attitudes to be right. This game is all mental,” he told the Calgary Sun. “Mentally, we weren’t there last night. We weren’t engaged like we needed to be as a whole group. Right from the opening faceoff, our sharpness wasn’t where it needed to be.
“They exploited it very well, the Oilers. We never got our game on track at any point in time.”
Sutter talks about attitude often, and with good reason. The Flames are somewhat bereft of talent (Tom Kostopoulos and Blake Comeau are the second-line wingers) and go into every contest knowing if they don’t outwork the other team, their chances for success diminish. If they only match the other team’s work rate, those chances diminish further.
And if they get outworked?
“Let’s make sure our attitudes are still the right attitudes,” Sutter said after putting his team through battle drills at Wednesday’s practice. “Let’s make sure that we get focused the way we need to be focused. And let’s get back to where we need to be as a team, and how we have to play to have success.”
Of course, Calgary’s stinkers do come with silver linings. The last time the Flames were badly blown out — the aforementioned nine-goal loss to the Bruins — they responded with a 10-3-4 run that got them back into the playoff fight.