Flustered by penalties, Flames brace for Wild
CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames are having some discipline problems and it is wearing on their coach's nerves.
They head into Saturday's home game against the Minnesota Wild on edge because over their past three games, the Flames have been short-handed 20 times thanks to many lapses in judgment.
Coach Glen Gulutzan was still seething after practice on Friday after a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricane the night before.
"You can't win if you're going to spot somebody six power plays a night," he told the scrum of reporters at the Saddledome. "You're not going to win. It's just not happening."
Gulutzan refused to dump on his young in-your-face sophomore, Matthew Tkachuk, who was criticized for his two minors on Thursday. One led to the game-winning goal.
But, because he plays hard minutes in so-called dirty areas and draws a lot of penalties himself, Tkachuk was spared Gulutzan's wrath.
"We need that kid. And we we'll win with that kid," the coach said.
On the other hand, defenseman Dougie Hamilton and third-line center Sam Bennett weren't spared Gulutzan's glare, referring to them as having not having built up the same credit as Tkachuk.
"Those players that don't have a bank account, they're going to sit on the bench," Gulutzan said, sharply.
Helping the Flames stay afloat -- they have a respectable 4-3-0 record so far -- has been their penalty kill, which is fourth in the league with an 88.6 percent success rate.
Captain Mark Giordano said Friday the rash of unnecessary penalties will stop.
"We address it last year," he said. "At the start of the year I think we were in a very similar spot with the number we took.
"It's a mindset too. You can get it in your head and change your mindset rather than reaching and slashing and stuff like that. We did become a lot better at it."
Minnesota (1-2-2) arrives from Winnipeg, where it returned from a fice-day break to lose 4-3. Blake Wheeler's tiebreaking goal came with just 6:46 remaining in the third.
"We're going to have to find a way to be sharper ... having some more games in a row here will allow us to do that," dejected Wild goalie Devin Dubnyk told wild.com.
The Wild got good news on one front Thursday with the return of forward Marcus Foligno, who was sidelined for the past week with a broken cheekbone. He's now wearing a full facemask.
Mikael Granlund, however, remained out a groin injury. Granlund played in the season opener and hasn't suit up since. He remains possible for Saturday.
"It's one of those things where looking fine in practice and looking fine in a game might be different," coach Bruce Boudreau told twincities.com. "He looked fine in practice and then in the first game he didn't look that good with his skating stride. It's something we'll have to play by ear."
Minnesota is also without regulars Charlie Coyle because of a broken leg, Nino Niederreiter (ankle sprain) and Zach Parise (undisclosed). Parise was originally scheduled to play this weekend but suffered some sort of setback during practice Monday.
"The only update I got on him is he's not going to be playing this weekend," Boudreau told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Other than that, it's up to Zach and the doctors. I'm trying to stay out of it, even though, obviously ... I'm very interested in what his status is."
Updated October 21, 2017