Plucky Flames finding way with new formula
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames spent training camp practicing what they’ve preached.
They’re now trying to prove their new attitude can work in the regular season.
Vowing to be a plucky bunch with a little more blue on their collar than in seasons past, the Flames find themselves entering Sunday’s home opener against the Vancouver Canucks having taken three of a possible four points after their brief Eastern Conference trek to start the season.
“I think for our mindset, we preached all camp, we preached all summer from the year-end meeting that this organization needed a change of culture, a change of mindset and the first ingredient would be we go hard,” coach Bob Hartley said. “We go hard every day.”
“We talked about that before the year,” added TJ Galiardi. “We don’t really have any quote unquote superstars on our team. We need to bring the work boots every game.”
The mantra has served Calgary well so far.
The Flames outworked the Washington Capitals for much of their season debut before eventually falling 5-4 in a shootout on Thursday. Their effort earned them two more points Friday night in a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“You look at the third period in Washington, the overtime period in Washington, we were flying out there,” Hartley said. “We understand we might not be the deepest team in talent, we don’t have a (Sidney) Crosby or an (Alexander) Ovechkin, but we’re a team, we’re a family.
“Right now, the guys are on the same page. They work hard and in the first two games, they got rewarded with three points out of four. For their confidence, for their mindset, it’s a big bonus. It’s a good sign.”
“They can taste the results and for me, that’s important because now they feel good about themselves. All those skates and all the gym workouts, I really believe it’s paying off.”
Galiardi recognizes Hartley's hard sessions, both on and off the ice, are driving Calgary's success. Rarely does the veteran coach let his players take a drill off, instead drilling home the hard work and attention to detail the Flames need to show to make the team successful.
And though he’s has only been with the Flames for a handful of months, Galiardi already clear on the coach’s purpose.
“It starts with practice and anyone who’s seen our practices knows they’re tough,” he said. “Coaches don’t let any details slide. If someone makes a mistake, they blow it down right away and you correct it. That goes a long way in how you play and what kind of product you put on the ice in the game.”
The product has fetched three of a possible four points for the Flames.
But little early-season success is not going to go to the team’s head, though. Hartley won’t allow it.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry. That’s my job,” the coach said. “Everyone has their skates bolted to the ice. No one will be skating in the rafters.”
That’s just fine with Lance Bouma, the personification of Hartley’s blue-collar attitude.
“I think Bob does a really good job of keeping us at that level-headed space,” he said.
“I think we believe in ourselves in the room and I think if we play our game and work hard then points will take care of themselves.
"We’ve just got to play our game and we’ll be alright.”