Flames playing it close
They've rarely been out.
In the infancy of a roster re-tool the Flames are finding a way to keep it close, compiling an 12-7-6 record in a National Hockey League-leading 25 one-goal games this season.
It’s a testament to the people -- not the players -- the Flames have in their locker room, according to coach Bob Hartley.
“It all goes down to who you have as individuals,” Hartley said. “The will, the commitment, the discipline, that doesn’t come from the player. That comes from the human being. We’re very fortunate. We have some great guys working with us. It’s fun.
“As a coaching staff, whether in the video room or on the ice, we always expect full commitment from those guys and we get it. Sometimes execution is not as good as what we would like, but at the same time it’s a game of mistakes and as long as I see effort, I always try to reward a hard worker.”
Twenty-five nail-biters could just as easily be 29.
Four of Calgary’s five losses by two goals have also included a late empty-netter, including Rob Klinkhammer’s tally with just six seconds remaining in a Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 victory over the Flames on Oct. 22nd and Matt Duchene’s goal with three seconds on the clock in a Colorado Avalanche triumph by the same score on Nov. 8th.
Calgary’s 12 one-goal wins are the fourth-most in the NHL. It’s a total that should be even higher, Hartley admitted.
“We could have won quite a few of those games but at the same time, we find a way to be in those games,” he said. “At the NHL level, you don’t get those moral victories or those feel goods but I give credit to my players. They’re a good bunch of guys. They work hard. They want to do well. We find a way to be in every game.”
The good news for Hartley’s squad is that the Flames aren’t satisfied with keeping it close, especially if they’re on the wrong end of the final.
Mark Giordano, Calgary’s captain, isn’t about to let his crew become complacent when one goal is the difference between earning two points and leaving empty-handed.
“It’s disappointing for us right now because we feel like we should’ve won some games or got some points in games we haven’t,” he said. “At some point, we have to get really frustrated with that part of it and start finding a way.”
Giordano’s message has been well received by the troops.
“We have a lot of character in here, guys play hard every night,” Shane O’Brien said. “Unfortunately we just seem to make one or two little mistakes throughout the course of a game that ends up costing us the two points. We’re going to continue to work hard and continue to battle and try to win as many games as we can.”
Regardless of the margin of victory.