It’s not uncommon for a coach to lose his cool with a team that’s losing. Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan has a team on a winning streak, but he’s still not afraid to remind them who is boss.
Last week, during a practice between home wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, Gulutzan had a mini meltdown and threw his stick in the stands out of frustration. It was unexpected, and apparently effective for a Flames team that has won three in a row heading into Tuesday night’s road game versus the Minnesota Wild.
“Not the finest hour, but sometimes teams need to be put in the position they are and it’s my job to do it,” said Gulutzan of the outburst, when a reporter jokingly asked if he was ordering a new stick. “Sometimes there’s a method to the madness maybe, I don’t’ know, but no new sticks for me.”
If the team’s practice habits are frustrating him, Gulutzan has to be happy about the recent offensive input from top-line forward Micheal Ferland, who is emerging from the shadows of high-scoring linemates Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau with four points in Calgary’s last two games.
“We’ve had the same mindset these last few games. We know how big points are right now and we’ve been playing simple hockey, waiting for our chances, and it’s been working for us now,” Ferland said. “We’re just trying to stay above the other team and not give them much.”
For the Wild, especially lately, there’s a sense that they’re not getting much in their quest to earn a sixth consecutive playoff trip. Minnesota won its first two games of 2018 and seemed to be building some momentum in a tight Central Division, before getting knocked back in a 7-2 loss in Colorado on Saturday.
“Every game is vital,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, after his team didn’t have an answer for the Avalanche’s speed and physical play. “We knew that from game two in the season, and we took a step back tonight.”
Boudreau ended up using both goalies in the lopsided loss to Colorado, yanking starter Devan Dubnyk with just under 13 minutes to play in the third period after Dubnyk allowed six goals. The team seems determined to flush the Avalanche game and move on to Calgary.
“It got a little out of hand, but that’s a throwaway game,” said Dubnyk, who is 15-9-2 this season. “Certainly a game where we wanted the points, but we’ve been playing good hockey lately and there’s no point in looking any more into that game than what it was.”
If Minnesota seems confident that things will be better when they play Calgary at home, the numbers back it up. The Wild has earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games at Xcel Energy Center since Nov. 14, posting an 11-1-1 record in that span. Minnesota is 2-0-0 versus the Flames this season, after a 4-2 win in Calgary in October, and a 2-1 shootout win at home in December.
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