SUN Hockey Pool

Worn out Flames given a day to rest

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

It wasn't because Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter wanted his players to go trick-or-treating that he gave them the day off Sunday.

They all needed it to rest and reflect on this past week.

As much as some fans -- irate fans -- may have hoped Sutter gathered his team at the Saddledome and skated them to exhaustion in the wake of Saturday night's 7-2 humiliation at the hands of the Washington Capitals, he went for the other tactic.

He gave them a recovery day.

By no means do the players deserve an extended free pass in light of losing two of three games, and blowing leads in both of them.

However, it's worth remembering this team played seven games in 12 days, and looked worn out mentally as much as anything in the last outing.

Want an example? Line changes, including the one which led to the too-many-men penalty which started the Capitals off and running.

Sutter said as much in his post-game comments after the Washington loss.

"(Monday) it's back to the drawing board, back to square one, back to the basics and the fundamentals of the game, back to the details," he said. "I didn't think we were sharp on our line changes (Saturday night), we made some bad line changes, we were getting caught not coming hard to the bench and they were able to come back because of that."

Therefore, a rest on the Sabbath for a team which next plays host to the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday.

At least a physical rest.

Sutter snickered when asked whether he needed a day off as much as the players -- a fair question since he appears to take the losses harder than the 20 players hitting the ice.

"There's no such thing," he said. "We have to get better, too, ourselves. I hold myself responsible and accountable for what's going on and to try and get these guys back on the tracks.

"We've got to get it done."

Sessions Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of facing the Red Wings won't be patty-cake material.

Rest assured he plans to work his troops.

Which is why the players had Sunday to ponder what transpired the past three outings, on the heels of an outstanding performance in that 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

And then prepare to get ready for a stretch with five games in the next two weeks.

"If you play in this league, you have ups and downs," goalie Miikka Kiprusoff replied when asked whether he'd spend much of the day off brooding over those games. "For me, I look forward and not behind. That's how I try to do it and do everything I can to be better next game."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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