SUN Hockey Pool

Flames keep chins up

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

They have almost completely lost the lead.

Have the Calgary Flames completely lost their confidence, too?

Confidence is a grossly over-used word in today's world of sports, but something is definitely lacking around the Flames the last couple of weeks.

Having seen them lose five of seven and been reined in by the Vancouver Canucks, you can't help but wonder if self-doubt is creeping into their heads.

"I don't know if it is. I felt we were going to win that game," said centre Craig Conroy about his team's Friday night 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. "When we fell behind, I felt we'd get it back. I hope there's no doubt in anybody's mind, because as far as I'm concerned, we have a good team in here and just have to go out and play our game.

"I don't see guys being nervous and not feeling like they can't make plays. I think we just have to be more desperate and play a full 60 minutes."

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or do they?

Yesterday, having had a night to digest that disappointing loss to a Blues team that scored twice within a minute in the third period to snatch the win from them, the Flames were still stinging, but nobody was in full panic mode.

Concerned, and not quite ready to put that defeat out of their minds.

"It was a tough loss," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "One I thought (in which) we played pretty solid for most of the game, but made a few mistakes and let off for 10 minutes in the third period.

"St. Louis pushed us back, they were desperate. It was a tough loss to take, and we have to make sure we learn from those mistakes."

Makes you wonder at this point what they need to learn.

Is it how to play with urgency? The fact they've seen a double-digit lead on the rest of the division whittled down to three prior to the Vancouver Canucks late game last night should bring all kinds of urgency into the Flames room.

Yet, that word seems to be prevalent in their vocabulary but lacking in their game.

"I think at times we're working and feel like we're battling, but we're not finishing the plays and not getting it done, and I think the only way to do that is keep focused on your little things," Conroy said. "Right now, we can't try to do too much. I think when we try to do too much, that's when we start to get caught, stay too long on shifts and turn over the puck."

"In some areas, I think we have become better," Regehr stated. "The penalty kill, that was really hurting us for a while. I think we've all batten down the hatches there, and become more aware and changed it. That's been good. Five-on-five play, we're not giving up as many chances as we used to.

"But there's still areas to improve."

Yeah, like the powerplay, which could have buried the Blues long before they thought of making their late comeback.

"They didn't look sharp and that doesn't create any energy," Regehr said of the man-advantage crew. "Even if you don't score, at least you can create some momentum and get the other team on their heels so they're saying, 'Geez, these guys are ready to go' and that didn't happen."

Instead, what's been happening are loses (two in this stretch have come to clubs that are almost eliminated mathematically already, Toronto and Atlanta, and another to a Blues team that is hanging in the mix by a thread), which has the Flames fan base on pins and needles.

"You have to look at what situation we're in, think about where do we want to go and deal with it," Regehr said.


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