Let’s not call it the notorious “players-only meeting,” since that would imply the Golden Knights have hit some kind of major turbulence during this historic season.
Nate Schmidt prefers an alternative description.
“It was a couple of guys who had a few things to say,” the defenseman said Saturday. “It was good dialogue.”
The Knights (45-21-5, 95 points) look to kick their complacency starting at 1 p.m. Sunday when the fourth-place Calgary Flames (35-27-10, 80 points) visit T-Mobile Arena.
“I think it comes down to teams are battling,” Schmidt said. “We haven’t played a team — I think Buffalo and Detroit were the last teams we played that just were not in it. The last two teams we played (New Jersey and Minnesota) are battling, fighting for their spot. We kind of have to match the urgency.
“Moral of the story, we’ve got to play well down the stretch. You’ve got to play your best hockey going into the end of the year.”
The Knights played six teams currently in the playoffs during their past 10 games and went 4-5-1 in that stretch.
They limp into Sunday’s game against Calgary on a two-game losing skid and have lost a season-high four straight at T-Mobile Arena.
But coach Gerard Gallant remains optimistic the Knights can hit their stride with 11 games remaining in the regular season.
“We’re playing OK, we’re playing fine, but there’s got to be a little bit more urgency,” Gallant said. “I think if every player can pick up his game two percent, that’s all we need.
“We’re not playing good enough to win, but there’s just a little more urgency we need. And I understand it. You look at the standings and say, ‘Hey, we’re in a good spot right now,’ but you’ve got to look past that.”
While the Knights struggle for consistency, several other Western Conference teams are peaking in the final weeks of the regular season:
— Nashville, which leads the race for the President’s Trophy, has a point in 14 consecutive games (13-0-1) and became the first team to clinch a playoff berth.
— San Jose had won three straight entering Saturday’s game at Vancouver and plays the Knights twice this month as it tries to close the gap in the Pacific Division.
— Los Angeles is 6-3-1 in its past 10, and Anaheim is riding a modest two-game winning streak.
“It’s definitely not the time to not be consistent,” Knights leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault said. “You can’t have a slump at the end of the season and expect to turn it on in the playoffs. You’ve got to be good before the playoffs. We had a good road trip, but two games in a row at home like that is not good enough.”
Calgary is four points out of a playoff spot and fighting to stay within touching distance in the Pacific Division and wild-card chase.
Schmidt expects the Flames to play in desperation mode, which will be a good test for the Knights.
“They’re at that point of the year where they need to get points or they’re going home, and that makes them a dangerous team,” Schmidt said. “And I’m glad we’re playing a team like that. You have to bring your best game.”
Who: Golden Knights vs. Flames
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)
Line: Knights -160; total 6, under -120
1. Stop the bleeding. The Golden Knights suddenly are looking over their shoulder in the Pacific Division race, and a victory would help regain their confidence. All those points they accumulated in the first three months are beginning to loom large.
2. Break time? Coach Gerard Gallant did not announce his starting goaltender after Saturday’s practice, but this could be the perfect time to rest Marc-Andre Fleury and play Malcolm Subban. Fleury has started 19 of the past 20 games.
3. Out of Alberta. Quick, name the second-best road team in the Western Conference. That’s right. It’s Calgary. The Flames are 20-10-6 away from the Saddledome, including a 7-3 loss to the Knights on Feb. 21 at T-Mobile Arena.