SUN Hockey Pool

Flames have plenty of work to do

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

Brent Sutter doesn't mind letting his charges enjoy a victory.

It's one reason the Calgary Flames relished a day off yesterday.

A beatdown of the Vancouver Canucks Friday on the heels of a busy slate -- five contests in eight days -- and no games until Tuesday makes the breather well-deserved.

However, you can bet Sutter reminded his team their 5-3 win over Vancouver -- a game more one-sided than the score -- was just a single step.

"We've got to make sure we're in the right place, make sure we handle everything right," Sutter said after his team beat the Canucks for the second time this season.

"It's a big homestand for us. We have to play well. It's a good start."

Consider how much complacency has come into the picture for the Flames the past few years -- just as evident this season.

Get a big lead. Sit on it.

Most times, they've managed to win. But a couple of times, it's either backfired completely -- as was the case in Chicago -- or just became a scary situation.

Which makes Friday's result a best-case scenario for the Flames.

A 5-0 shellacking of the Canucks, and suddenly you have a team full of players believing they've got it all figured out.

But a 5-3 game that could have been closer if not for a foolish momentum-killing Alex Burrows penalty serves as a great reminder the Flames aren't there yet.

They looked like they were there during the first 50 minutes against the Canucks.

"We did what we wanted to do. We wanted to set up in the neutral zone more than the last while and get pucks behind their defence," said Curtis Glencross, whose shorthanded goal got the offensive ball rolling.

"It seemed like we were playing too much in our own end and worked all week on our neutral-zone (play), not having so many turnovers in the neutral zone and giving them the transition game.

"It worked out for us."

One little problem in the end, though.

The ending.

Sure, those final two Vancouver goals were on the powerplay, but most penalties are drawn by being assertive and forcing teams to make mistakes.

The Flames were guilty in the final minutes, which allows Sutter to keep pounding his messages.

"We still have little things we need to work on," Sutter said.

"That's an everyday thing, we know it,"

The good news is they've seen what they can do when following orders.

When the Flames play physical and aggressive in the offensive zone, and smart in the defensive and neutral zones, they are formidable.

"There were times when we got away from it a little bit, and we're still working on that, but that was one of our strongest efforts so far," said winger Eric Nystrom. "We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys. This team is going to be great if we can generate scoring from all the lines. Tonight was a good example of that. I think the coaching staff is happy."

As long as the players don't become too happy.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos