Plan coming together for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- During the summer, Brent Sutter had a vision of how his team would look when the pieces came together.

He had faith once everybody grasped all he wanted to instill, it would look a certain way.

The Flames head coach admitted that vision is darn close to what we've witnessed since November began.

"We're finding our way about what we are as a team," Sutter said yesterday while his charges had an off-ice workout at the team's hotel in Los Angeles. "This is what I wanted to see us start becoming.

"From the first day of training camp, you have a vision of what your team has to be like. You visualize what your team needs to be and how we have to play. This is the way I visualized this team.

"When that time was going to come and we'd figure out as a team what we are about, I didn't know, but these last games have shown us."

Go through the stretches over the past five weeks and it's easy to see why he's happy.

They've started this tough six-game road trip, which ends tonight against the Kings, with four wins in five outings.

Go back further when they began the stretch with eight of nine games on the road, and their record is 6-1-1.

Since November began, their record is 11-3-2 -- a spell with only four home games.

"We're starting to see what our team is about," Sutter said. "Now we need to make sure we keep our foot on the pedal, continue to stay focussed."

The results speak for themselves. Sutter is just as happy, if not more happy, about the process: How his team is winning.

The Flames have climbed to sixth in goals-against average, while still having a potent, or at least opportunistic, attack -- which was the case in Saturday's 2-1 win over San Jose.

"It's how you play and giving yourself a chance," he said.

"We're 1-1 going into the third period, and that's a perfect situation in a real tight game.

"We've had some really good third periods, and that was another one."

Even if they'd have lost to the league-leading Sharks in the same manner with which they won, it's a good bet Sutter would have been OK, since his team did so many things properly from start to finish.

"I was proud of the guys (Saturday) night. Darn rights," he said. "You go into a tough building and are playing the top team in the league, we knew we'd have to do things a certain way.

"Yet, the way we did things (in San Jose), if you take away the Phoenix game, is really what we've been about. The whole emotional level of the game was maybe up a notch because of the circumstances and the building we're playing in, but to get the effort we got, for sure you're proud.

"They put it out there."

Even the lone blemish over the last two weeks, a 2-1 defeat in Phoenix on a night the Flames were not up to snuff with their execution, is a positive.

"It shows us (what happens) when we don't do things a certain way," Sutter said. "That's all part of building toward where we want to get to. I want these guys to have some swagger. It's important in pro sports for teams," Sutter added.

"To do well, you've got to feel good about yourself and you've got to feel good about your team.

"You feel in any building and any circumstances, you do it a certain way, we're going to be fine."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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