Skidding Flames facing tough test vs. Rangers
CALGARY, Alberta — Losers of three straight games and five of their past six, the Calgary Flames will face another tough test when they take on the New York Rangers on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Following a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars at home on Thursday, Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan expressed frustration that the Flames keep finding ways to lose.
“We just need somebody to step up and take this thing and find ways to win,” said Gulutzan. “That's really what we need. We have to find that from within our locker room.”
One positive that the Flames can build off is that left winger Johnny Gaudreau scored twice to snap a six-game goalless drought.
“We've got to get out of this funk here, this slump, and turn this season around,” said Gaudreau, while noting the Flames have to improve upon their woeful power-play and penalty-killing units in order to improve upon their 5-9-1 record. “It's difficult — we worked on special teams the last few days because we know how important it is but we gave up one on the penalty kill and didn't score on the power play (against Dallas).
“I guess we have to keep working at that, and try to get better because that helps win games.”
Rookie defenseman Brett Kulak said he believes the Flames have the character in the dressing room to turn things around.
“It's definitely frustrating right now, but now's the time where we've got to dig deep … and find a way to start getting wins,” said Kulak.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers (10-4-0) will be looking to bounce back from a 5-3 loss they suffered to the Vancouver Canucks at home on Tuesday.
The Rangers kick off a four-game, eight-day road trip against the Flames on Saturday before they also take on the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, Vancouver on Tuesday and the Columbus Blue Jackets next Friday.
“It's a good challenge for us,” New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist told NHL.com. “We haven't traveled much. We've played a lot of home games, which has been a good test. Now, I think it's going to be a good test to go out on the road here and face some desperate teams.”
After the Rangers played 10 of their first 14 games in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden, New York coach Alain Vigneault said he's looking forward to seeing how his players respond during their first extended road trip of the season.
“For our group, get together and get away,” Vigneault told NHL.com. “We've got four good games. We're still in the phase here of finding out about our group. There's no better way than going on the road and being together and preparing and trying to win games.”
Center Derek Stepan echoed his head coach's sentiments.
“I think this is a good time for us to get out on the road,” said Stepan. “Obviously there's huge points on the line. We need to have a good road trip and that's our main focus. We have to find a way to put a road game together.
“Our last few have been better but we've really got to find a way because it's really hard to win, especially going to other people's buildings. Good road teams usually have success.”