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Flames Head Coach Darryl Sutter: “You’re Going To Have To Go Through Vegas” To Win The West

Apparently records don’t matter to the Calgary Flames. Even with a seven point lead, the Flames felt like the underdog in their 3-2 loss Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena. Currently, Calgary is in 1st place in the Pacific Division but are highly aware of how dangerous a healthy Golden Knights an be.

Well, they’re the best team on paper. They’re clearly the best team out West, maybe other than the team that owns the Stanley Cup, if you look at it.

It’s not even that close, to tell you the truth. -Darryl Sutter, Calgary coach

That’s high praise coming from a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach. Sutter won with teams that didn’t win their division, twice. In 2012 & 2014 the LA Kings finished 3rd in the Pacific Division yet went on to win two silver chalices. Sutter’s Kings were never considered Cup favorites but he believed they were as deep as any opponent they faced. In Sutter’s first Stanley Cup run, LA finished the season with 95 points and eliminated a 111 point Vancouver Canucks club in five games.

During the shocking five-game upset, Sutter wasn’t surprised his overlooked 8th seeded team found success against the 2012 President’s Trophy winner.

We feel fortunate they could fit us into their schedule tonight. All you have to do is listen to everything. You can’t imagine how they could lose a game again. -Sutter on facing Vancouver (quote from March 26, 2012)

Quite like those championship Kings teams, this season’s Golden Knights are in a similar position. Endless injuries, games remaining, and points available will make it challenging for Vegas to overcome the deficit and capture another Pacific Divisional title. Which means Vegas will need to win one, two, three or even four series beginning on the road. No matter where they land Sutter considers the Golden Knights the biggest threat in the conference.

If you want to get out of (the West) you’re going to have to go through here. Or if you want to get in, you’re going to have to beat this team. -Sutter

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Certainly, Edmonton and Calgary have talented rosters but when fully healthy no club is as deep as Vegas. Having William Karlsson back in the lineup was one more step to becoming a complete team again. Add Jack Eichel to the roster and it furthers Sutter’s comments. The Flames may end up winning the division this season but will be considered an underdog if they face the Golden Knights in a seven game series.

You just look at what they’ve done the last few years. Obviously, Finals, Western Conference Finals, I think Western Conference Finals in the bubble again. They’re very experienced, very skilled and they play fast and obviously that’s the next step for us, is being able to come into buildings like this where it’s a fun, hostile environment, but to be able to get points in these types of situations. -Chris Tanev, Flames defenseman

The final standings didn’t matter when Sutter won his two Cups and it’s possible he’s seeing a familiar pattern with Vegas. Or this could all be a ploy to motivate his players and inflate the Golden Knights confidence. Either way, he’s the appropriate guy to make such strong statements.

One has to wonder what an overly candid coach like Sutter would say if he had to deal with the Golden Knights laundry list of injured players? Maybe something like this.

He has a sore back. It’s that old line. `I’ve got a weak back.’ `When did it happen?’ `About a week back.’’ -Darryl Sutter, Jan. 7, 2014

We can only hope for a Golden Knights-Flames postseason series.

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23 Comments

  1. Pistol Pete

    Need to see this already deep lineup after making room for Eichel, but whoever is lost Eichel will more than make up for it.

    I attended the Flames game and although it may have been wishful thinking I saw more than one instance on the first line where if Eichel had been there it could have resulted in a goal. One was where Stone could not skate quite fast enough to get a breakaway. Eichel also has a release to match Pacioretty’s—his wrister is deadly from some distance out.

    • Blitz

      I like the excitement, but would caution expecting anything from Eichel *this year*. The neck surgery and he hasn’t played in over a year, alone should ring ‘have patience’, but then thrown in a new team, a new scheme, and new teammates on top and it is an extra tall order. Mark Stone, Patches, and Petra all had an acclamation period and Petra’s was an entire regular season.

      On the flip side, he will have had many weeks to study the PDB system piece of it. Hopefully there is something there to speed up his learning curve.

      I am excited to watch it go down, regardless how it goes early on.

      • Pistol Pete

        He has plenty of time to prep and learn the system including no contact practices starting as soon as two weeks from now, and contact should begin about two weeks before they come back from the Olympic break. Think being the physical specimen he is, Eichel is will recover quickly. I am not counting on an immediate impact but something close to it will not surprise me.

        • Wishful think or a fortune teller pistol Pete
          In either case delusional – l believed we have established there is no MD behind your name so your posts concerning how soon he will be doing this or that is nothing more than hot air – actually BS. The risks are to great to push it.

          • Pistol Pete

            If he scores a couple times in his first five games will my positioning be BS in retrospect? I have tried to premise my bullishness for Eichel by implying something like scoring two in the first five games may not happen, however IMO one would have be pretty unrealistic to thing something like that is completely unlikely. We have seen players come back from injury and have an immediate impact. Eichel’s situation is more acute in terms of time away and playing a new system, but still.

  2. Tim

    Let’s make the playoffs first then worry about who we’ll play. The Pacific is fairly competitive and so is the Central so being one of the 8 teams is the first order of business. Being a positive person I believe we’ll win the Pacific when it’s all said and done. Just a thought on a different topic can you imagine the pressure Jack Eichel will have on him in his first game. Everyone thinks he’s Clark Kent alias Superman but he is human and may take a while to get his MoJo.

    • Beet reynolds

      You couldn’t be more wrong about that. This is the first time in his career he won’t have to be “the guy”

      He will start on the third line when he comes back, there’s 3 other previous captains here. Eichel won’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders and can just play hockey. Jack is gonna thrive and tear up the league when he realizes he just has to play and doesn’t need to be the guy who does every single thing. Playoffs beware. This is a dude whose never played a playoff game. Imagine how motivated he’s gonna be to show the sabres they effed up

      • Daryl

        Sorry but completely disagree with you here. When he comes back all eyes will be on him. He will have just as much if not more pressure on him. He won’t be on the 3rd line either

  3. Henderson One

    The question is…what players do the VGK’s eliminate from their roster to get under the CAP when Eichel joins the team?

  4. THE hockey GOD

    boy the VGK haters on this forum are silent, they must be fuming right now.

    Sutter is one of best coaches in game, a bit long in the tooth.

    The Islander coach is best, but his team is mired in last place. If things don’t turn around soon his head may be on chopping block. Says a lot about how much lives
    of head coaches are worth in NHL right now. Head coaches are falling like flies, and kings/queens in the game of thrones.

    • Tim

      Barry Trot is a hell of a coach but boy would I hate being a fan of the islanders. If you like 1-0 or 2-1 games night after night good luck. Hockey wants scoring to increase and watching the islanders is like watching grass grow.

    • Pistol Pete

      Except for his one Cup I can’t see Trotz’s record is a lot better than DeBoer’s, in fact including the two years he made the Cup Finals, DeBoer has made more Conference Finals than Trotz. When I compared them a few months ago the regular season win % is pretty similar as I recall.

  5. Galdom

    Hey Tim, that’s a solid point on the pressure that Jack Eichel will face. We are fantastic and have been without him so we don’t need a saviour so I’m hoping that everyone doesn’t expect him to be at least at first. He is a franchise player and will be our first line centre at some point but I don’t see any reason why it needs to happen right away especially with Stephenson slotting well between Pacioretty and Stone. Why not slot him in at the third line to start off.

    Something like

    Pacioretty – Stephenson- Stone
    Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
    Patrick – Eichel – Roy
    Carrier – Kolesar – Amadio

    Dadonov and Janmark traded for the team to be cap compliant.

    Ease Eichel in. Obviously he gets first power play minutes.

    • THE hockey GOD

      i would like to see eichel between boris and janmark, with carrier, kolesar, and amadio,and one d man (coghlin?) possibly sitting out. Everyone thinks they are going to release or trade players, other option is to do what they did last year during regular season and sit players.

    • There not giving this guy 10 mill to be a third line center. The FO is nuts but not crazy and yes there is a huge difference between those two – nuts a d crazy. Anyone expecting Eichel to be the difference in wining the Cup and not is delusional- he may help but he will needs lots of help.

  6. Ulf

    IF Eichel comes back and plays well, which I hope he does, then I think Sutter’s words have some merit.
    Otherwise come on – Avs look great, and one thing Sutter has always done over his career is underpromise and overdeliver. He’s trying to get the spotlight off what they’ve been doing.

    • The hockey GOD

      So he is giving is the ole double talk. That snake

      • Ulf

        Not to mention the Wild have the horses this year and are looking very good
        They’ll be in cap trouble in a year or two with some of the buyout stuff so might be inclined to add this year for a big run.

  7. Daryl

    I would love to know the question that was asked to get this response

  8. Matt

    Congratulations Ken and Jason, you somehow managed to throw the biggest wet blanket on VGK I’ve ever read. They somehow stay above water grinding out wins although lucky at times followed by playing arguably the best game of the season. Put a podcast out making the most optimistic fan feel like shit about the future. I guess the better question is why do I continue to read this?

  9. TS

    The road to the west goes through Vegas? If i make a left on Flamingo will that work?

    Go LVGK!

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