Sutter puts Flames through their paces

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

CALGARY — The first Flames practice since Monday’s 9-1 drubbing from the San Jose Sharks was intense.

There were all kinds of drills which required players to battle and compete.

However, it wasn’t the “bag skate” Edmonton Oilers head coach Pat Quinn put his players through the other day.

For head coach Brent Sutter, it was a chance to reinforce his message, not work them to the point of fatigue.

“We play (Thursday),” Sutter said when asked why he didn’t use the whip. “It’s important to get back to understanding and knowing what our team game is. Just because we weren’t on the ice (Wednesday) doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tough day. This is a day to get ready for the next game, but it was also a reminder of how we need to play. We walked through things so it gets back in our mind set that this is what we are.

“Personally, I felt (Tuesday) was a very productive day for us. Maybe it wasn’t on the ice, but mentally it certainly was.”

On Tuesday, the Flames didn’t hit the ice, but were subjected to plenty of meetings and video sessions — and plenty of soul searching. Things were reinforced in the practice Wednesday.

“We worked on things out there we need to improve on during the game,” said defenceman Robyn Regehr. “The easy thing would be just lining guys up and making them skate down and back on the ice, but that’s a short-term fix.

“We have things to work on and that’s what we did today. In order to win games, we need to execute the way we’re practising and have improvements in those areas.”

Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks is a chance to see whether any or all of the messages made it through.

“It’s important that we do respond the right way,” Sutter said. “It can’t be a wishy-washy thing. It’s something that has to be done on a daily basis. (Tuesday) was a day of reflecting back on where we are today and where we need to be and what we’re about. We need to take those steps. It’s important. If we want to have any consistent success, we need to have that. Responding is the right wording to it, but actions speak volumes. All the right things are being said, but there has to be production.”

As much as goals against came into play over the last two games — a total of 14 shots went by the goaltending duo — scoring is still an issue for the Flames.

Nearly every skater is mired in a slump.

“I don’t know if there is any secret solution,” said left-winger Nigel Dawes. “If there was, everybody would be doing it. It’s getting pucks on net, working hard for those second and third opportunities. It might not be the tap-in or nice passing play, but if one goes off your leg or you tip one or a rebound or something like that, it’s all you need to get started.”

Among the drills were refreshers about putting themselves in position to score goals, which have been few and far between over the past six weeks.

Even captain Jarome Iginla has gone through nine games without a marker.

Sutter was asked whether he was planning anything specific to turn players’ fortunes around.

“Where do you want me to start?” he replied. “We have quite a few guys who have shown inconsistency. You guys focus in on one guy all the time, but I focus on the team. That’s what it’s supposed to be about.

“We’ve had too many inconsistencies. I’m not coaching one player, I’m coaching a group that we need to continue to get what we can out of them. They have to want that, too. It’s to a point where enough is enough. Everyone talks about responsibility but now you have to show it. Actions do speak volumes.”


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