CALGARY – Bob Hartley has experienced tough starts as a coach in the past and he’s confident the Calgary Flames have what it takes to improve upon their 1-3-2 record.
On Monday, he recalled that when he broke into the NHL as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 1998-’99, his team bounced back after a sluggish start.
“My first year in Colorado we were 2-5 and we made it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinals,”Hartley said.“Last year in Zurich we were 5-8 and we won the championship.
“There’s plenty of examples like this.”
Hartley guided the ZSC Lions to a Swiss League title last season before being hired to coach the Flames in late May.
His Calgary side is coming off a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Flames now head out on a three-game road trip starting in Detroit on Tuesday.
It will be forward Jiri Hudler’s first game back at Joe Louis Arena since signing as a free agent with the Flames in the off-season.
“Obviously I want to win so bad,”said Hudler, who has five points in three games this season.“First time going back, I’ve got a lot of good friends there and it’s going to be a lot of fun, but at the same time we need the points.”
Hartley commended his players for a fine performance against Chicago. The Flames were dominant at times against the league-leading Blackhawks (7-0-2), who stole the victory thanks to a 45-save performance by goalie Ray Emery and a clutch shootout goal by Chicago captain Patrick Kane.
“We’re doing some good things,”Hartley said.“We’re building on a good foundation. I would like to see our guys getting rewarded because I think that they deserve better.”
Hartley believes the Flames will have momentum on their side following Saturday’s performance against the Blackhawks.
“We’re right there and I feel that we’re showing progress,”Hartley said.“It’s going to be a good building block for us, but at the same time, we need to cash in on our chances and rack up some wins.”
Defenceman Mark Giordano said that he and his teammates came away from the shootout setback with confidence that they can compete against the top teams in the league.
“We’ve done a lot of good things, but at the end of the day we have left some points on the table,”Giordano said.“We’re pretty happy actually after our last game. If we play like that and get those types of chances, we’re pretty sure we’re going to be OK on most nights.”
For the Flames to rise in the standings, they’ll need to get increased production from the likes of Jarome Iginla and Michael Cammalleri, who have yet to score through six games.
“To be honest, I’ve had great chances,”said Iginla.“I haven’t felt bad in games. I thought I had great chances and could have had a bunch. It’s more magnified when it’s at the beginning of the year and we’re not winning.
“You want to get going as far as you feel good when you do get that first one. When you break a tough streak, they seem to roll. We’ve got to stay positive and keep thinking that the next one’s going to go in.”
The Flames are last in the NHL’s overall standings with four points after six games.
“It doesn’t feel good,”said Cammalleri, who has just two assists this season.“It’s not where you want to be. I’d like nothing more than for us to rally off 10 in a row and see where that puts us.”