It is every coach’s dilemma. The day after a terrific pounding, how should he react? How should he treat his players?

Smack them down? Or prop them up?

Friday morning — a dozen hours after being manhandled by the Dallas Stars — the Calgary Flames reported to the rink. But, instead of trooping back onto the ice, they enjoyed a relatively easy session. A little video, a little stretching. Some weight-lifting, some ping-ponging.

From Bob Hartley, it had been an uncharacteristically light touch.

“There are two ways to go,” the coach explained in advance of Saturday’s visit from the Edmonton Oilers. “(You could) get them on the ice for 40, 45 minutes and bag them. (But) you have to make decisions. What works? You don’t know. We can all be experts around 10:30 (Saturday) night. If it worked, what a great call. If it didn’t work? Well, we should’ve bagged them.

“If it was a lack of commitment, we would still be on the ice and they would need 10 Zambonis to clear the snow. But that’s not the case. The boys needed a mental break.”

The Flames, second last in the Western Conference, are in a free fall.

Yes, losing 7-3 to the Stars had been ugly. But in their last 14 dates, they’ve rustled up only three wins.

“Way too many mental mistakes,” said Hartley. “I don’t think we saw this in training camp, I don’t think we saw this early on in the season — and right now it’s creeping up. We tried to fix it by practising, practising, practising. So, mentally and physically, to get a little break is going to be good for the boys. We just need to reboot a little bit. It’s a chance to refocus. Just unplugging. I don’t think you can really build on frustration. You need to let go (of) frustration. When confidence goes, frustration settles in. That’s a fact of human nature.