SUN Hockey Pool

Hopefuls fall flat to Isles

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

SASKATOON -- Coaches say it's tough to send players to the minors when the time comes.

Too many Calgary Flames hopefuls are not making it a chore for new bench boss Brent Sutter and the rest of the Flames management.

Last night's 4-2 pre-season loss before 12,833 at the Credit Union Centre featured mainly players hoping to increase their ice time from the third and fourth lines or hop off the bubble.

They made a game of it in the end, but not before falling behind by a pair of goals and being outplayed by an Islanders squad that didn't feature too many skaters who conjure images of the 1980s Stanley Cup squads.

"I thought we were trying to think the game too much instead of reacting," Sutter said. "Sometimes when you've implemented the stuff we're trying to implement, guys stand around and think too much instead of just reacting and letting it come naturally.

"The last six minutes of the first period, we seemed to get in the flow, but no system works when you stand around and watch."

On a night Flames players should have hit the ice like uncaged lions, they were lifeless at puck drop.

They managed only one shot through the first 10 minutes and were down 2-0 on goals by Jon Sim and Matt Martin.

"I played for him in junior, and one thing for sure is he's big on your starts," said Flames right winger Carsen Germyn.

"If you're ready to go, he's gonna play you."

A late-period commercial break gave Sutter a chance to implore his charges to awake, albeit subtly, and that started the ship in the right direction.

Calgary drew even with second-period powerplay goals by Jamie Lundmark -- who had an open net thanks to a great pass by Germyn -- and Kris Chucko.

However, Greg Moore's shorthanded tally in the third period proved to be the winner.

"It was a good evaluation to watch some players. We saw some good signs, too," Sutter said.

The night wasn't what goalie Curtis McElhinney was hoping for in his quest to rebound this season in the role of back-up to Miikka Kiprusoff.

He stopped 14 of 16 shots in two periods of action -- his first of the pre-season.

"It's something to build on, I guess. We'll put it that way," McElhinney said.

"There were some good things and some things I'd like to change, but that first one is out of the way and I'll look forward to the next one."

Martin's second of the night into an empty net iced the affair.

For those expecting fireworks in light of Flames blueline star Dion Phaneuf's hit on the Isles' Kyle Okposo a couple of nights earlier, it didn't happen, but there were two tilts. Calgary's Brandon Prust sent Michael Haley needing to repair a cut by his eye, and Garth Murray dropped the mitts with Islanders Tim Jackman.

The Flames are home tonight against the Florida Panthers.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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