Gulutzan says Flames playing with ‘fear of failure’

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Things are not going well for the Calgary Flames so far this season.

With only five wins in their first 15 games they find themselves back at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

On Friday, coach Glen Gulutzan addressed what he thought has been a big problem with his team so far this season: A fear of failure. He explained this by referencing the Flintstones and then saying the way to address it would be to bring in Sigmund Freud.

Here is Gulutzan on Friday after practice when he was asked about a recent comment where he told his team to “stop being the victim.”

“It’s basically the fear of failure,” Gulutzan said. “It’s Schleprock, right? From the Flintstones. Like, something bad is going to happen every time you take a penalty or whatever, and we’ve gotta get rid of that mindset. We have to prop up. That is when adversity hits, you have to be at your best, you have to be at your strongest.

“Probably, that comment was a little bit more related to the fact that every time we take one penalty in the third, even when we’ve had two greats kills or three great kills in Chicago, it’s just that one critical juncture that we need a kill, and we can’t play. It’s ‘Oh, here it comes’ when that happens. We have to rise up in those critical moments in games and get things done.”

(I think Schelprock is a reference to “Bad Luck Schleprock, a character on The Pepples and Bam Bam Show in the 1970s, and yes, I googled that.)

It’s not hard to see what Gulutzan is talking about here. During this most recent stretch of poor play, where the Flames have lost five out of six and been outscored by a 23-7 margin, their inability to hold things together later in games and avoid giving up goals in bunches has been their biggest undoing.

It all started back on Nov. 1 against Chicago when they went into the third period with a 1-1 tie before giving up a power play goal to give the Blackhawks the lead. After that they gave up three more goals in the game’s final eight minutes. A similar sequence played out against Anaheim about a week later, while Thursday’s loss to Dallas was also ultimately decided by a late power play goal.

Whether it’s “fear of failure” or something else entirely (continued poor play from their goaltenders? Some of their top guys not scoring the way they have been expected to?), the Flames probably should be better than their current record. It’s not a team completely lacking in talent and has some high-end players, and they are currently a top-10 possession team in the NHL. It’s not a team that should have the third worst record in the league.

Things are not going to get any easier on Saturday night when the Rangers come to town.

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