Flames hope to end skid

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

DETROIT -- Olli Jokinen has been through losing streaks before.

He's seen plenty of them over his career with non-playoff teams in Los Angeles, New York, Florida and Phoenix.

The newest Calgary centre is also not surprised to hear fans in the Stampede City are in a bit of a panic over the team's three-game losing skid, even if he's yet to play a game there in a Flames sweater.

However, Jokinen and the rest of the Flames are maintaining they just have to stay the course to right the ship, starting with Thursday night's game in Detroit.

"I think the last three games, we haven't played at a level we're capable of playing. As a team, we're a confident group, so we just want to look forward," Jokinen said after yesterday's practice at the Joe Louis Arena. "This is a big challenge. It's a team ahead of us in the standings. It was a little bit better game against New Jersey, but we can be a lot better and we're confident we can turn this around.

"We have high expectations, want to win every game, but it's got to come game by game."

Calgary has two wins after five outings of the seven-game road trip. The mood yesterday was of concern, but quiet confidence the 3-2 defeat in New Jersey was a step forward.

Jokinen said he believes the best way to pull out of the slide is to not make the game too complicated.

"Good things usually happen when you work hard, get the pucks deep in the zone, get them out of your zone. And shoot," he said. "A lot of times when the team's not scoring, you start over-passing, trying to make those pretty plays, but it doesn't work that way.

"You have to get back to basics, get 30 plus shots. That way everybody knows the pucks will go to the net and get there."

They fired 37 shots on the Devils net, no small feat. Defensively, they were stronger, too.

"It's not good enough, don't get me wrong, but it's closer to what we want to do," said captain Jarome Iginla. "After the game, you take it hard because you want to end it and get winning. Then you wake up and it's a new day and you get back to work. We have a good team here, we know it, and you've got to stay positive, stay upbeat.

"It's not constructive to get too down. We can just put everything into trying to win the next game.

"We beat Detroit -- in Detroit -- which we know is going to be a tough game, but those the type of games you almost want at this point, because you win it and it's a huge momentum game.

"Then you get things right back on track."

Right now, they're on the wrong track for a litany of reasons. A few bad habits crept back in during the winning streak prior and finally reared their head and poor special-team play has been at fault, while the swapping in and out of players through injuries and trades as well as goaltending not quite up to snuff has played a part.

Head coach Mike Keenan said the approach he takes during a losing streak is dictated by the situation, but the pathway to victory always comes back to fundamentals.

"How do you get out of it? From my teaching background, you stay persistent, you stay consistent, you expect and demand the same prerequisite qualities from the athletes in terms of their preparation and team as far as their execution. You pay attention to details and you're repetitive, and you work yourself out of slumps," he said.

One aspect that should help is Jokinen becoming more comfortable.

"I don't think anyone's satisfied, we lost three games," he said. "But I feel comfortable with the team. It's a good group of guys here and it's easy to get in here. It's a good thing we've been on the road so you can spend some time together and get to know the guys."


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