from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Hartley divides the NHL schedule into seven-game segments to mimic a traditional playoff series – a tactic he believes keeps the team’s focus on achievable, short-term goals.
So, for example, early in his press briefing Monday, Hartley reminded reporters that Tuesday’s date with the visiting St. Louis Blues marked the end of the Flames’ 10th seven-game series of the year. The Flames are a remarkable 7-1-1 in the first nine, which is why they are where they are – third in the Pacific Division, on pace for 96 points with a chance to qualify for the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2009.
According to Hartley, the value of breaking the season down into bite-sized segments was greater during the dog days, because it helped keep the focus on the smaller, day-to-day picture.
“Early on, since we had a young group, I just didn’t want them to think, with 80 games, there’s plenty of time to catch up,” said Hartley. “We all know that once you’re seven, eight points behind with 10 to 15 games to go, and you’re in a logjam with other teams, it’s going to be unbelievably tough to make it.
“I was trying to get them in the mindset to avoid this. I would say probably December, January, I felt those seven-game segments really hit home. Now, they’re pros. They’re adults. They know our situation. They know how many games are left to be played – and they know every game is vital. We keep repeating the same song, but it seems to have worked since Day 1, so why change it?”
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