Lots on the line against Canucks

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

The screws are already tightening on the Calgary Flames.

They know Thursday's season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was a major disappointment.

They're well aware next week is taken up by a four-game road swing to Detroit, Dallas, Nashville and Colorado, all tough tasks.

So they know very well tonight's clash with the Vancouver Canucks can't be frittered away.

"This is going to be a huge test for us," said left-winger Alex Tanguay, "We've got four road games ahead of us, but we're playing a divisional rival, and a team that had our number late last year, so we have to make sure we come out with our best effort and show more than we did (against Philly).

"It's regular season now and we need to be a little more desperate. Philly was the more desperate team and they ended up winning the game."

Tonight's affair (8 p.m., CBC) won't decide Calgary's fate. Even a loss could be erased easily over the remaining 80 games.

Still, starting the season with a pair of defeats before a tough road swing -- and we all know how the Flames fared away from home last year -- would make the scrutiny all the more intense.

As captain Jarome Iginla pointed out, it's an important clash for a variety of reasons.

"It's Vancouver, one of our biggest rivals, and a division game," he said to start off. "Actually, it's all of it together. All those games are good, physical, fast-skating games.

"We'll be going on the road, it's getting that first win of the season and getting it going in the right direction."

To do that, the Flames will need to correct a big problem that's plagued them through the pre-season and into the season-opener: Slow starts.

"We have to make sure once the puck's dropped ... we're focused on what we have to do," Tanguay said.


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