What better way for a team that completely lost its ability to defend to get itself back together than to play against a team with ample skill and speed?
Calgary’s been pretty poor lately.
No, no, it’s true.
There’s been finger-pointing and criticism and a whole hell of a lot of goals being given up. Now the Flames face their toughest test of the season to date. And for the second time the Red Wings are the opposition in that test. Obviously, last time didn’t go so well as Calgary came out on the wrong end of a 4-2 loss after, you guessed it, taking a relatively early lead. So what’s going to make tonight different?
Well, for one thing, Calgary’s had a lot of time to get its act together since Saturday’s gong show loss. That’s completely unlike the last time they played Detroit, on the road, just two days after sneaking by the Predators in Nashville. For another, there’s the pressure. Teams of veterans, such as this one, often respond better to hideous, ugly, embarrassing losses in which all their faults are laid bare for the whole league to see. (And everyone saw them, make no mistake about that.)
If, as Brent Sutter suggests, not everyone was "buying into the system" — that old gag — then that Washington game hopefully provided enough to start doing it. After all, there was no one spared from the tough questions that inevitably follow losses like that. Everyone stepped up and said the right things to the media.
But now the important part: stepping up and doing the right things on the ice. A loss will start bringing to mind that nightmarish spiral of last season that mercifully ended on New Years’ Eve. It might also signal midnight struck for Brent Sutter some time ago, and no one noticed that he was a pumpkin behind the bench and in the dressing room until just now.
On the other hand, a win tonight will help to re-legitimize a team that, frankly, has a lot over which to be ashamed in its recent performances.
Either way, it should be riveting television, eh?