Much needed R&R

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

Rest.

It’s a small word and would seem a slight detail, but to the Calgary Flames the amount of rest they’ve been given lately is a very big deal.

“Absolutely. It’s been good,” said left winger Alex Tanguay, whose team knew Wednesday would mean a day from the rink. “We’re certainly appreciating all the days off we’re getting.”

Say what you want about Flames head coach Brent Sutter being a tough cookie, but he understands the value of giving players days off. In fact, as long as they’re working hard and getting results, Sutter is happy to separate relaxation time and work time.

After all the pomp and circumstance of the Heritage Classic, the Flames were lacking that last bit of spring in their step in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Despite the defeat, Sutter didn’t waiver from a plan to give his players a recovery day Wednesday, save for the fund-raising poker tournament in the afternoon.

That comes on the heels of three off days amidst the stretch of five games in eight nights leading up to the outdoor game.

Not all coaches are as free with that R ‘n’ R.

“Bob Hartley was my first year in Colorado,” Tanguay said. “After Christmas, it would be that way. You have to get ready the playoffs and have to push, so guys put that much more energy in the games.

“Brent’s managed us great. We have an older team here so we know what it takes to get ourselves ready. Those days off give us an opportunity to feel better and I think it shows in our play.

“Before Christmas, you need to get your legs going, need to build yourself, but now we’re in the position those days off are important to take advantage of, and hopefully give us more energy.”

The Flames aren’t as old as they used to be with Craig Conroy’s retirement and Ales Kotalik in the minors, but are still a veteran-laden squad.

In theory, that should mean less preparation time is necessary and more recovery time needed.

The proof is in the details of their record when there are two or more full days between games, 10-4-1. The Flames are on a 7-0-1 run in that scenario, which they hope to improve upon when they play host to the San Jose Sharks Friday.

“The games mean so much and we put so much energy, so much intensity and so much mental energy into the games, so it’s nice to get away for those days,” Tanguay said. “We know what we have to do in order for us to get ourselves in the playoffs and those days off are nice to take care of our bodies and get ready for the next one.

“We know Friday’s going to be a big one.”

Immediately after their defeat at the hands of the Bruins, the players didn’t want to admit feeling fatigued (“That’s no excuse. We have to be ready to play, but made a bad change at the start of the game and it bit us in the butt,” Curtis Glencross said.) but you could see it in their play.

A day away from the rink gives some time to put that defeat in the past and look to regroup.

“We’re on a good run. We can’t dwell on it. We’ll get back to work Thursday in practice,” Glencross said. “San Jose is a big game for us and a chance to get right back on track.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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