Flames D-feat annoys GM

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

DALLAS -- Two straight losses was enough for Darryl Sutter to step in.

After last night's 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars, the Calgary Flames GM had the media shuffled out of the dressing room, closed the door and let his charges know losing -- and how they were losing -- wasn't acceptable.

Especially away from the Saddledome.

"We're pretty bad on the road," said Flames centre Craig Conroy, after the doors were re-opened. "Who cares what we're doing at home? We've got to do it on the road. Don't kid yourself -- we're not where we want to be. We've got to be better, and to a man we believe that. Everything (Sutter) said was true.

"It's one thing about Darryl, he tells it the way it is. We've won one game on the road in 31 days, and that's not good enough."

Sutter and head coach Mike Keenan left without speaking to the media. Certainly, the team's braintrust has reason for concern.

The Flames may sit atop the Northwest Division with a healthy lead, but for the second night in a row -- first in Denver, and then in Dallas -- they were simply not up to snuff.

Associate coach Jim Playfair wouldn't divulge exactly what was said behind closed doors but admitted it comes down to a lack of consistency.

"It's in regards to making sure we're really clear on what we're trying to accomplish here, and that's to be a more consistent team. I think when you look at the reasons why we're losing, it's about the details," Playfair said.

"It's about making sure that when you get a lead, you've got to be a better team at handling the lead and building on that lead.

"It's really clear and simple what we've tried to establish the last little while, and we want to make sure we're really all clear on that. And that's what (the meeting) was all about."

At home, the Flames (30-16-4) are among the NHL's top squads.

Away from the Saddledome, they have a middling 11-11-1 record. Their lone win in the last five road contests was a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

"We're just not playing well on the road, and we've made a few excuses. We have to start winning on the road," Conroy said. "It's enough talking about being good at home. It doesn't matter, we've got to be good on the road.

"You're giving away points, and we can't afford to do that."

Last night was an example of that.

Granted, the Stars (24-18-7) are a surging team that's won five straight and is climbing the Western Conference standings, but the Flames had them where they wanted before the crowd of 16,395 at the American Airlines Center.

For the second night in a row, the Flames took an early first-period lead -- this time when Michael Cammalleri tallied on the powerplay.

It was only to see Jere Lehtinen tie the game with a powerplay goal of his own in the final minute of the opening period and James Neal add another man-advantage marker early in the second period.

It was only thanks to outstanding goaltending by Miikka Kiprusoff the Flames had a chance, but Calgary couldn't find the equalizer before Brad Richards iced the affair with just over three minutes left in regulation.

The Flames return home to face a strong Chicago Blackhawks team tomorrow night. It's the first contest in a three-game homestand before their schedule really becomes road-heavy.

That gives them a week to put their game in order.

At least they can hang their hats on the fact they haven't lost three straight in regulation this season.

"You don't want to make too big a deal out of it, other than to make sure we're prepared to win one game again," Playfair said. "We've done a great job of responding after two losses. We have to get ready to regroup for Chicago. It's as simple as that."

And a chance to show the boss the message was heard.


Videos

Photos

Canoe Top Headlines