CALGARY – Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter says his team will need to get emotional if they hope to cool down red-hot Nashville.
The Flames will host the Predators in a rare afternoon affair on Saturday (Sportsnet West, 4 p.m. ET) at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Nashville (21-11-3) is coming in riding a three-game win streak while Calgary (20-10-4) just broke a three-game slide Thursday with a 2-1 win over Los Angeles.
“We needed some emotion here,” said Sutter, whose squad blanked the Predators 5-0 on Nov. 30 in Nashville. “The emotion level hadn’t been where we wanted it to be in the last three games, four games. A part of the emotion is getting involved in the game and being involved in the sense where you’re engaged in it.”
Part of the reason for Calgary’s success against L.A. was that they outhit the Kings by a 26-10 margin, which pleased Sutter.
For Calgary to succeed against Nashville, defenceman Robyn Regehr said the Flames will have to keep up their physical play.
“We talked about trying to get involved emotionally and I think that’s a really good way to do it,” Regehr said. “Going out there and hitting guys and getting excited and getting yourself excited is a lot better way to get involved in the game than being hit or being on the receiving end.”
As far as it being an afternoon game, Sutter said that shouldn’t have any bearing on how his squad plays.
“I’m not concerned about the game time at all,” he said. “The nice thing is you get up and eat and you come to the rink and play.”
Flames forward Craig Conroy, for one, said he likes playing in afternoon games, especially at home where his wife and three daughters can enjoy the early affair.
“You just come to the rink and you play the games and you have the rest of the day which is nice,” said Conroy, who missed a pair of games earlier this month with a wrist injury.
As the lone forward on the Flames without a goal this season, Conroy would like nothing better than to light the lamp against the Predators with his family in the stands.
“I’m trying everything right now,” he said after practice on Friday while trying out a brand new pair of Bauer skates. “I wish they’d start going in. It’s just about keep going to the net and hopefully something will hit me and go in.”
Playing on a line with Brandon Prust and Curtis Glencross, Conroy had a great chance to score against the Kings in the second period of Thursday’s game, but couldn’t quite convert.
“I just got the puck down on the goal line and took it to the net and was able to slide it to Connie,” said Prust, noting that Conroy was tied up by a Kings player and couldn’t get a shot off. “We’re always looking for him now to try to get that monkey off his back.”
While Conroy hasn’t scored yet, Glencross said the veteran forward plays a lot of other valuable roles with the Flames.
“He’s a shut-down guy, he’s a face-off guy, he’s a penalty killer,” said Glencross, who isn’t worried about his linemate’s lack of offensive production. “He’s due. He’s going to have a breakout here and he’s going to start rolling.”
Defenceman Mark Giordano, who led the Flames with four hits against the Kings, also predicted that Conroy will soon start finding the back of the net.
“Once he gets going, he’s going to get hot,” Giordano said. “We’d rather have him hot down the stretch than at the start of the year.”