Flames prepare for another matchup with Bruins (Feb 18, 2018)
After Calgary fell 5-2 in Boston on Tuesday, Hamilton and the Flames (31-21-8) hope to bounce back against the Bruins (35-13-8) with a better result Monday afternoon when the teams meet for a rematch at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"We challenged our group after that Boston game," said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team responded by skating to a 4-3 road victory over the Nashville Predators two nights later. "We felt we played 35 good minutes against (the Bruins) ... but that's not enough against a good team. We challenged our guys then to go 60 minutes against a really good team in Nashville and they did it and we came out of there.
"Our guys know there's no secret here. If you're going to beat a good team, you've got to play 60 minutes, so that's an easy one for us (on Monday) to put in our heads."
The Flames also have their sights set on rebounding from a disappointing 6-3 loss to the visiting Florida Panthers on Saturday that dropped their record on home ice below .500 (13-14-3).
After Hamilton scored all three goals against the Panthers for his first NHL hat trick in his 400th career game, he will be looking to build on that momentum against his former team.
"It's, I guess, one of those games that you know is coming up and you're aware of it coming on the calendar," said the 24-year-old defenseman, who played his first 178 NHL games for the Bruins before being acquired by the Flames in June 2015 for a trio of draft picks (one in the first round and two in the second).
"But it's been a while now, I think I've ... played more games in Calgary now, so it felt a little weird going back there this time and didn't quite feel like home, whereas it used to. So it's kind of changed as the years go by, but (I still) know some of the guys now and just try to shut them down."
After beating the Flames, the Bruins had three days off before losing 6-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday to kick off a five-game road trip.
"We were getting away from what's been good to us basically," summed up center Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice against the Flames before being blanked by the Canucks. "Our defensive zone (coverage) has been lacking and the results showed for it.
"At some point, it's going to bite you and it did (on Saturday). When you get down by three, four goals, it's not easy to come back."
During an afternoon practice in Calgary on Sunday, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy stressed that the Bruins need to defend better if they hope to return to the form that saw them win six of seven games to start February.
"Bad habits have been creeping in and we want to make sure we address it," Cassidy said. "It's been a few games now where we've been loose and you're not going very far if you're loose. You'll win some games, but we want to get back to being a tighter, better defensive team."
After facing the Flames, the Bruins head north to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
"We play (Monday), we play Tuesday, so we've got to be careful," said Cassidy, while noting he plans to start goalie Tuukka Rask in Calgary before going with Anton Khudobin between the pipes in Edmonton.