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Sutter: Kadri's recent struggles 'not about his compete'

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

Calgary Flames forward Nazem Kadri appears to be busting out of his recent slump with goals in back-to-back games, and head coach Darryl Sutter emphasized that the veteran's recent struggles have nothing to do with his effort level.

"I just think with Naz ... the summer and the season have been a race, right?" Sutter said Monday. "You see him today, you get these two days (since the last game) and you see more energy again out of him. It's got nothing to do with anything else, it's not about his compete."

Kadri had gone 16 games without a goal prior to scoring in Thursday's defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights. He helped the Colorado Avalanche lift the Stanley Cup in late June, and Sutter said his abbreviated summer has "a lot to do" with his skid.

"Those guys just gave everything they had and that's all they had left," Sutter said. "He went through that run and then being a free agent and all that. ... (Questioning Kadri's effort) is so off-base, it's just strictly getting the guy's energy back."

Kadri was named an All-Star after enjoying a strong start to his first season in Calgary but has cooled off since the Flames returned from the break Feb. 6.

Season span G P G/GP P/GP ATOI
Before All-Star break (50 GP) 19 38 0.38 0.76 17:43
After All-Star break (24 GP) 4 13 0.17 0.54 16:10

The 32-year-old recorded the eventual game-winner Saturday against the San Jose Sharks but saw a season-low 12:34 minutes of ice time. Over his last 12 contests, Kadri's playing time has dipped below the 15-minute mark eight times.

Sutter said last week that he doesn't talk to players about reducing their ice time, adding that the onus is "100%" on them to earn it back.

For his part, Kadri said Thursday that his relationship with the hard-nosed coach is "fine" and chalked up any speculation of a rift to playing in a Canadian market, according to TSN's Salim Valji.

Kadri is in the first season of a seven-year, $49-million pact that he signed with the Flames as an unrestricted free agent in August.

The Flames sit four points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 33-26-15 record entering Monday's slate.

Calgary's next game will come Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.

Sutter: Kadri's recent struggles 'not about his compete'
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