Rest stop found in St. Paul

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Calgary Flames' current road trip has been a great time for the players -- and not just because they're winning.

It's meant some quality downtime.

"This has been a good trip," said centre Craig Conroy. "The time played perfectly for us."

The journey started with a Sunday afternoon game in Chicago, after which the team stayed over in the Windy City, then had a late-morning departure for St. Paul.

Monday's practice was followed by Tuesday's win over the Minnesota Wild, Wednesday's practice and another win over the Wild.

Being away from the family for a week is a common complaint but having a relaxing trip without much hustle and bustle is a nice trade-off, especially with the pressure of the playoffs approaching quickly.

"It's nice to get in, hang up our clothes and, after (Tuesday's) game, get some food, relax, get a good night's sleep," Conroy said. "It wasn't having to get on a plane, fly all the way to Vancouver and go to another place after that.

"The trips do catch up to guys. It's nice to settle in. It just felt good."

Even the final portion of the trip isn't bad. The team jetted to Vancouver after Thursday's win and arrived around 1 a.m. yesterday.

An optional practice was the last preparation for tonight's clash in Vancouver (8 p.m., CBC). That, and a bit of late-season bonding.

"It's great to have the chance to go out for dinner together," Conroy said.

"There's a lot to be said about sitting at one of those meals, hang out and just BS with each other. Then you get ready for the next day.

"It just bring s team together, we have fun and it just translates on the ice."

Complaints about the unbalanced schedule have echoed all season but a rejuvenating trip like this is good for everybody -- even for the training staff.

Equipment manager Gus Thorson certainly enjoyed an easier time.

"If you can stay in the same rink, it's great," he said.

"If you're packing and going from rink to rink, even in the same city, it's kinda loses the shine a little bit. I'm in favour of not having to hop on an aircraft every night."


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