SUN Hockey Pool

Rest stop for Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

DENVER, Colo. -- Sometimes, a single day of rest is like a vacation.

After Calgary's eight-game winning streak came to an end Friday night in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at the Saddledome, Flames players were given Saturday off to recover.

Admittedly, the Flames were tired, both physically and mentally, after a gruelling stretch of the November schedule during which they played nine games in 18 nights.

Fatigue was evident in the Flames' performance Friday. Little mistakes such as poorly-timed line changes turned into big plays for the Blackhawks and ultimately cost the home team the contest.

"We were mentally and physically tired," said Flames centre Daymond Langkow yesterday before the team flew to the Mile High City for tonight's contest against the Colorado Avalanche. "To make those mistakes that many times in one game, you don't see that very often, if ever, especially with this team."

Langkow said the crunched Olympic-year schedule has made days off precious.

"It's big," he said. "Playing every other day and obviously you've got to practise in between those games, it wears on you.

"You've just got to take advantage of (the day off), rest up and get ready."

That day of rest becomes even more important when you look at what's around the corner for the Flames.

The team plays the Avs in Colorado tonight, hosts the San Jose Sharks Wednesday and then provincial rival Edmonton Friday before heading out on another lengthy road swing, this time to the east.

Veteran Darren McCarty believes in a mental strategy to keep from being overwhelmed by the workload.

"I think a lot of times the secret is breaking the season up into blocks of games or blocks of two weeks here, three weeks there," said McCarty. "Now we're starting off with a new one -- even though we play one on the road and then two at home and then go on the road again, these three games are another little block.

"It doesn't get any easier."

Of course, recovery days -- few and far between so far this season -- sure help a player regain his focus.

"It was nice to have a day off (Saturday) just to unwind. Sometimes you need that day just to get away from hockey and sort of bring yourself back," said McCarty.

"You get to be away from the rink and you get to do normal things, whether it's with your family or just having a day of relaxation, you cherish it," he added. "But it also gets you hungry for when you come back the next day to the rink. Then you're ready to go again."

Langkow, for one, is feeling re-energized.

"We're fresh today," said McCarty's newest linemate, who has played well of late between the former Red Wing and fellow newcomer Tony Amonte.

"We had a good practice and we've got to be ready for Colorado."


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