SUN Hockey Pool

Flames eager to forget recent four-game skid

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

DENVER -- Four straight losses isn't the kind of finish to the regular season the Calgary Flames imagined.

Especially after piling up six straight victories on their most successful road trip of the season before the current slump started.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Detroit Red Wings, the team the Calgary Flames are about to face in the opening round of the playoffs, gained points in each of their final eight games, losing four shootouts to go with four regulation wins.

"I think everybody can breathe a sigh of relief now the regular season is over. Now the real deal starts," said Flames winger Tony Amonte last night. "We know we're going to have to be better than we played in the last week."

The Flames sputtered with three opportunities to clinch their playoff spot, losing at home to the Avs and Oilers with a tough contest in San Jose sandwiched in between.

Last night's 6-3 loss to the Avs was meaningless in the standings but they would have loved a victory to head into the playoffs on a high note.

"We would have liked to go out on a winning note," said Craig Conroy. "We've got to be at the top of our game. These last four are done and now we've got to lay it all on the line. We've got to get things accomplished."

The beauty of the playoffs, he says, is the reset button.

"Maybe we're in a little bit of a down right now but that's all behind us," Conroy said. "It's a fresh start. That's the way everyone's got to look at it. Everybody's all at zero and we can move forward from here."

Alex Tanguay admitted the team's focus has been missing recently. He believes the Flames are good enough to overcome that when the situation calls for desperation.

"It was a little hard to get motivated. We knew that unless a miracle would have happened we'd get into the playoffs," said Tanguay. "We're extremely happy we're in. This is a new season, hopefully we can be extremely good in that season.

"I think we've got a lot of experience in the dressing room. ... We know that it's a different season now, what you've done in the past doesn't really matter. Any team's got a chance to win."


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