St. Paul - Bob Hartley wasn’t dolled up in a tux and tails, best man beaming at his side, waiting for the preacher to recite from the good book, but he is admittedly growing somewhat weary of being left at the altar.
“It’s time,” said the Calgary Flames’ boss, “for the flirting to be over.
“Like, let’s get married. Let’s go to church.
“It’s the only way we can have a chance to be in the playoffs ... .500 won’t be even close. Everyone in the dressing room is aware of this. We just came off two good wins, two big wins, and now we have two road games against divisional rivals.
“It’s to keep playing our game, challenge ourselves for more.”
Hartley and Co. go in search of a third consecutive W tonight at the Xcel Energy Center against those batten-down-hatches Minnesota Wild.
And by coming up trumps, the Flames could vault over the break-even mark for the first time this season after some squandered chances, and in the doing, actually consider themselves on a bit of a roll.
Not a jaw-dropping, record-setting, when-on-earth-will-it-end? Chicago Blackhawks’ type roll, mind. But a roll, nonetheless.
“We’re seeing improvements over improvements. As a coaching staff, you always hope those improvements translate into wins. It’s not always the perfect way but as long as you get two points I think that’s good.
“We have a great character-builder the other night against Phoenix” — a topsy-turvy 5-4 victory Sunday — “with the two late goals and sometimes that can carry (you).”
The Flames will stand pat this evening meaning Joey MacDonald is back between the pipes.
The Wild and Calgary hooked up on Saturday, of course, with the Flames earning a 3-1 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome. With, given Minny’s penchant for tight games, an empty-netter, naturally.
Hartley was asked if he expected another typical low-scoring affair tonight?
“Obviously,’’ he replied, “I hope not. I want us to play good in the three zones. Our approach is always the same. Against Phoenix on Sunday, I never thought there’d be nine goals scored, but it shows you the beauty of our sport.
“With Parise, with Heatley, Bouchard, Koivu, they’re a team that can score lots of goals so we have to be careful. They’re going to jam around their blueline, create turnovers and that’s where their skill level can cause some damage. On our side, we’ve got to be careful. We don’t want to get caught in that kind of trap. We want to make smart decisions between the two blue lines, making sure our reads are accurate and then either get on the rush or the forecheck.
“Our record doesn’t show this but in many of our games so far we were successful in outchancing the other teams. And for me, that’s a very positive sign.’’
For his part, Wild boss Mike Yeo is anticipating a bigger push from his group than on Saturday night.
“Teams that are successful this season will find a way after a tough game or an emotional game and be on the top of their game.’’
One aspect he’ll be looking for a big upgrade in this evening is a misfiring power play.
“Big picture, it’s very important. It’s been putting more pressure on all of our players, on our team. We’ve played well defensively. If we’d scored even two or three more goals our record would look a little bit different. So we have to get (the power play) going.”
Calgary finishes up a quick two-game trip Thursday in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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