No D-esperation for Flames?

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

There's no 'D' in Calgary.

No 'D' in the Flames lately either.

And that's a problem you can expect to be addressed before they return to action.

With the team's disappointing performance to end its seven-game road swing -- an 8-6 loss to Toronto Saturday night -- and a disappointing three-win, four-loss record during that trip, the Flames must find the formula that worked so well for a couple of months and resulted in their ascent to the top of the Northwest Division.

At least, they'd better in preparation for Wednesday's clash with the Dallas Stars.

"I don't know what's going on," said left winger Curtis Glencross amidst the fallout of Saturday's ugly defeat.

"It's obviously something we have to go back to the drawing board about, do a lot of video the next few days, and get back to the old game we played.

"We're giving up too many scoring chances, and that's the biggest problem. You're not going to win if you keep giving up too many scoring chances."

Remember how well they played after digging out from the mid-November debacle in San Jose? A major part of that turnaround was a commitment to defence.

In the 25 games that followed that 6-1 beatdown to the Sharks, the Flames surrendered more than three goals on five occasions. It's happened five times in their last eight clashes. Twice they gave up a converted touchdown and a rouge.

They haven't even been a middle-of-the road defensive team, which is no way to play if you consider yourself a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Instead, the Flames appear to think they can score their way out of trouble.

"That may be something they think is possible, particularly after the comeback in the (Detroit) game, but the reality of the NHL is it doesn't work that way," said head coach Mike Keenan. "Looking after defensive details will be important for our team if we want to improve and be a better hockey club."

Yesterday was a day of rest following an early-morning return from Toronto.

Starting today, though, there will be plenty of work to regain their form.

"We all have to play better, but especially a guy like myself," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "I consider myself part of the leadership group and I haven't been playing well. That has to change.

"Right now, we're way too inconsistent of a team. Sometimes, we come out with a good defensive effort, and sometimes we don't play that way at all. It just makes it really tough to play. You never know how this team's going to react. You look at the really good teams in the league and they play the same type of game over and over and over again."

Defensively, the Flames are not built to be a slam-the-door squad that doesn't allow chances. They're built to be aggressive, quick and physical on the forecheck, which generates momentum and scoring chances.

The theory is to play good defence first by having strong offensive-zone effort.

"It's when we deviate from that we get into trouble," Regehr said. "We start giving up chances, get playing a line-rush type of game and give up way too many opportunities."


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