Flames coach Sutter stands firm

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:04 PM ET

The Calgary Flames didn’t hear any of Brent Sutter’s post-game rant to the media after Tuesday night’s home-ice loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

In fact, the players hadn’t even heard about it when quizzed by reporters Wednesday.

They did, however, hear essentially the message from the coach behind closed doors. Likely, a less sanitized version than the one for public consumption.

“We definitely heard from him,” said defenceman Steve Staios, who wasn’t shocked Sutter unloaded with both barrels during his media address following the 4-3 defeat. “We’ve been playing at a high level for a long time and we realize we’ve let some things slip, and over the last few games it’s really become evident.

“The message was loud and clear. We have confidence we can get back to that game. We know what we have to do, and when you see it on video, it proves the point.”

Sutter let his emotions flow after watching his team’s performance against the Coyotes.

He chastised his team for it’s “unacceptable” lack of urgency en route to losing a third straight game in regulation time.

At the end of his media availability, he said, “I guess I’m telling you this because the players didn’t. That’s it. I’m done,” and then walked out.

Rightfully, Sutter didn’t step back from his comments after Wednesday’s practice, noting his team has let some bad habits slip into the game, such as allowing too many scoring chances and poor turnovers.

“We have gotten away from our game to some degree, and that’s why I was the way I was after the game,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we’ve played our last three games. Even with our game in Dallas (a 4-3 shootout win), I wasn’t happy with the way we played our second period.

“You can’t play that way this time of year and think you’re going to have success. I want to nail that in the bud and we have 10 games left and the urgency has to be at a high level.

“It’s a critical time of the season and in those situations, you have to respond the right way.”

Sutter’s mood was certainly tempered in practice, but he wasn’t exactly joking while pulling out some of the traditional “battle drills” to reinforce the need to work.

Before the session, he had a chat with the charges, followed by a video session to prove his point.

“We heard what we needed to hear. There was no sugar-coating it,” Staios said. “We knew we weren’t good. We gave it a push at the end (of Tuesday’s outing), but for three games we haven’t been ourselves. It’s the smallest of things we’ve let slip. If you can understand it, you can get back to it quick enough and we knew it right away.”

“It’s pretty apparent the things that aren’t right with us right now,” said defenceman Cory Sarich. “It comes down to just a few things like applying ourselves again, hard work and got to have some emotion in our game.

“The tale of the tape, you look at it, and it’s nowhere close to how we have been playing. It looked a bit like earlier in the year and you can’t have that.”

Now the study turns to the next step.

Sutter hadn’t unloaded on his team publicly for a long time — which makes sense since the Flames went on a such a torrid run for more than two months — but it doesn’t matter what he says if the players don’t react in the right manner.

“In the fall, we were too inconsistent with emotion and intensity,” said centre Mikael Backlund. “Since this group came together and we started having more hunger, more intensity and more energy, it’s been a lot better.

“The coaches have been on us, but the guys in here realize we have to get it back together.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

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