SUN Hockey Pool

Flames: learning sure beats losing

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 PM ET

Some Calgary Flames fans found the shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers a little hard to enjoy.

The Flames themselves didn’t have that problem Tuesday night.

While head coach Brent Sutter could easily have exploded for his team allowing the Oilers to come back from a 4-1 deficit to force overtime and steal a point against a division rival, there were cheers heard coming from the locker-room shortly after Alex Tanguay scored the winning goal in the showdown.

“They should be enjoying the wins,” Tanguay said when told the third-period collapse didn’t sit well with some in the city. “I think we played 39 solid minutes. (The Oilers) played 21 solid minutes. In order to be successful in this league, you have to be consistent for 60 minutes. We weren’t.”

Consider it another lesson learned in this young season.

The team has been pretty strong since Sutter sat them all down Oct. 15 for an in-depth discussion about the way they need to play.

But they strayed from the concept after Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle scored in the last minute of the second period Tuesday and were caught up in a pond-hockey atmosphere.

Using that to re-enforce his teachings, Sutter sat them down again Wednesday for a video session and made the practice optional ahead of Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

“(Tuesday) night was a good lesson, when it happens in a 60-minute span where you can be pretty darn good and be not so good, it’s because you lose your focus and you get to doing things the way we don’t want to do them, and you get to being individualists,” Sutter said. “We become a very average team.

“But when we do it (right), we’re a very good team.”

So the fact the Flames won their third straight game and fifth of their last six and learned a hard lesson in the process without giving up points winds up being a perfect scenario for a team in need of constant reminders.

“Definitely. I think we’ve got a veteran team and we learned from our mistakes (Tuesday) night,” said Tanguay.

“It’s always nicer to learn when you still win the game.”

That came thanks to Tanguay’s shot just under the crossbar in the shootout, which led to a much more pleasant post-game atmosphere than what you can imagine it would have been had they lost to the Oilers.

It was back to business Wednesday, but Sutter wants to maintain an enjoyable working environment as he guides the players through the long season.

“We talk about fun. We talk about wanting to be here and enjoy it,” Sutter said. “But it’s also in a very businesslike manner ... It’s knowing you can build on positives and correct your negatives.”

Correction was what Wednesday’s session was all about. They spent a half hour showing what they have been doing right and what went wrong against Edmonton.

“The guys see it and they know it. They understand,” Sutter said. “We want to keep it on the right track, so we addressed those things and went through them ... They were very focused in it and they got something out of it.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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