SUN Hockey Pool

Flames regroup after hat-trick of losses

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Every good team goes through tough times.

It's how they respond that determines just how good they are.

The Calgary Flames knew they were in one of those down cycles before Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and they responded about as well as an automated phone system that has people pulling out their hair every time they call for technical assistance.

For a team that at times looks like a potential Stanley Cup champ, the Flames sure do have the ability to look brutal.

The have in nearly every matchup with the Blackhawks this season.

Those back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche before the all-star break started this recent slump, which has never been as obvious as it is now, after poor efforts on the road in Dallas and Denver were followed up by an abysmal showing against the Hawks at the Dome.

Getting back to basics in a brief but up-tempo practice at Max Bell yesterday, the Flames were saying all the right things. This afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks, we'll see if they believe it.

Taking clips from the three wins that preceded their three consecutive losses this week, the coaching staff showed the players the difference in their game.

"It's black and white. They can see it and they acknowledge it," said head coach Mike Keenan.

"It's human nature. When you have a little bit of success, you start feeling good about yourself, which is great, but maybe you forget about the details you put in to be successful."

In a league full of talented players, in a Western Conference that's home to 15 teams all still with a chance of making the playoffs, you can't afford to take winning for granted just because you've been good at getting it done for a few months.

Struggling a little in the first month of the season, the Boston Bruins have become the most consistent team in the league since.

The perennial powerhouse Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks, have had their share of adversity recently.

After dropping five in a row to bookend the all-star break, the Red Wings are back on track.

The Sharks head out on a long road trip after losing two straight on home ice.

Few believe the Sharks won't bounce back.

There are more skeptics when it comes to the Flames.

They might be their own worst critics. Mentally, maybe they were taking things for granted.

"Things that you expect to just happen, things we were doing, we just expected to keep rolling and keep happening," said captain Jarome Iginla.

"That's not always the case."

Seeing the trend in their efforts long before they dropped three straight games in regulation for the first time this season, Iginla had a players-only meeting after the loss to the Stars in Dallas.

Right before GM Darryl Sutter visited them.

"It's not just breaks in our last few games," said Iginla. "Our habits haven't been as good and our physical play could be better."

Great teams bounce back quickly.

With two more home games to play before they head back out on the road, the time to rebound is now.

They already have one strike against them.


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