Stars say season will spark club

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:09 PM ET

Throw the Calgary Flames' dismal pre-season record out the window.

You can bet they'd love to.

There are no points on the line in exhibition games. Despite good intentions, NHLers don't play their best until a sense of urgency kicks in.

Still, you have to wonder what a 1-5-2 record over eight warm-up games means for the Flames -- a team that on paper appears worthy of the playoffs and a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.

"You don't want the regular season to start like this, but we saw what we've done wrong," Craig Conroy said after Saturday night's game in San Jose.

"We know when we've played well, what's worked and what hasn't. Obviously, we didn't score a ton of goals."

Scoring was a strength for this team last season, but Calgary netted just a dozen goals over the past couple of weeks and were shut out twice.

If any positives could be taken out of their finish in San Jose, it was the Flames controlled the play for most of the third period to make a game of it after falling behind 2-0.

Conroy's breakaway goal gave them hope, and they poured on the pressure in the dying minutes.

"In the third, I thought we played well and had chances and put them back on their heels," said Conroy, who was sprung by Alex Tanguay. "Especially playing four (games) in five nights. We still had energy, jump."

There's concern among fans there's no magical switch to be turned on to ignite the Flames for the regular season the way the pyrotechnics are lit after every tally at the Saddledome.

When the games count, however, that intensity naturally comes into play.

"It's an eye-opener for how hard we realize we have to play," Jarome Iginla said of the exhibition schedule. "It's one thing that we have skill, but we've got to make sure we're ready to compete, ready to skate and we've got to play with confidence with the puck.

"There's a lot of lessons."


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