Message falls on deaf ears

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

DETROIT -- Maybe it'll take a sledgehammer between the eyes to get the message through.

Lord knows the two warnings issued 24 hours earlier didn't do the job for the flickering Calgary Flames.

Despite a tongue-lashing from GM Darryl Sutter and a pair of call-ups added to the mix to prove spots in the lineup are on the line, it was more of the same from the underachieving squad.

Instead of using those motivating factors, the stumbling and bumbling squad fell further behind the pack by losing 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings last night.

The Flames spotted Detroit a pair of goals with sloppy defence and yet managed to draw close, only to fall just short once again.

Which leaves the question: What will it take for this team to control a game from start to finish?

"It's up everyone to answer that bell that's ringing," said defenceman Rhett Warrener.

Is that bell ringing ... or tolling?

Certainly there were signs the Flames -- now losers of three straight and six of seven outings -- were going to break out of their funk in the city of soul.

On Tuesday, Sutter called out several underachieving players.

To slam his message home, Sutter summoned forwards Dustin Boyd and Brandon Prust from the farm to show the incumbents their jobs are not secure.

But the Flames again found themselves in a hole early and couldn't cue a comeback.

Apparently, rookie head coach Jim Playfair is in need of something else to motivate his troops.

"It's about getting the most out of what our dressing room has to offer right now," Playfair said.

"Our defence has to be a lot better, to a man. We're not quick enough in our own zone on puck battles, we don't make the good first pass and the sense urgency to get the pucks out of our zone has to be a lot better.

"They're getting scoring chances after the puck's been on our stick once and twice in our zone. It's about a lot more from everybody in our dressing room, from our goaltender right out."

Still, the Flames had a chance to draw even with the Wings.

Despite after falling behind on goals from Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom before the six-minute mark, and despite being outshot 13-5 in the opening frame and 34-15 through the contest, the gathering at Joe Louis Arena wasn't sure until the final few seconds the Red Wings would win their fourth straight.

Detroit didn't run away with the win and the Flames simply weren't good enough to snatch it back.

"Playing like we are is always frustrating," Warrener said.

"I'm confused to what's going on and why we think being average is gonna get the job done. There's too many good teams to play this way."

Brett Lebda's third-period marker turned out to be the game-winner for the Wings.

Dion Phaneuf and Andrew Ference scored for Calgary.


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