Best to forget last year's opener

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Selective amnesia strikes the Calgary Flames when last year's season opener is brought up.

David Moss blanks out momentarily, then his face gives him away as the memory comes back.

"I tried to forget about it," said the big winger. "I was trying to think who we played, but then I remembered really quickly ... It was ugly."

It was a 6-0 pasting of the Flames at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.

Then they fell short in the rematch in their home-opener at the Saddledome.

Tough start, to say the least.

"The start to the season is huge. You never know how things are going to go with injuries. Every year it seems what you do at the beginning of the year translates to points at the end of the year, even though it might not seem like it," said Moss, whose team gets a crack at the Canucks in their season-opener again this year tonight at the Saddledome (8 p.m., CBC).

"I don't know if we'll bring that game up, but I think we bring up how important it is to get off to a good start, especially with the number of games we'll be playing in a short period of time."

Remembering last year's mayhem on the coast is easy for Robyn Regehr.

The defenceman wasn't there, instead flying home to witness the birth of his first child. A great day on a personal level, but a tough one for his teammates.

"I saw it in the hospital as I was going back and forth," he said. "Seeing the score was very disappointing, but there was a lot of other stuff going on so that kind of smoothed things over a little bit for me.

"But it was tough to see the guys struggling out there in a game."

He'll be on the ice this time, and the Flames will have to be in fine form in what will be a matchup between the Northwest Division's best clubs.

"We're going to be in a dogfight," said Flames centre Craig Conroy. "They have a good goalie. We're going to have to find a way to solve him early and get on their (defence) and stay out of the penalty box."

Head coach Brent Sutter wasn't with the Flames a year ago, and he's not putting pressure on his team to explode out of the gate.

"It's always nice to have a good start to your year, let's not kid ourselves," Sutter said.

"But when the game's over, next morning start getting ready for the next game. That's gonna be our approach.

"We're not getting caught up in where we're playing, what time of day it is, what day of the week it is, what week of the month it is. We're just taking one game at a time and worrying about that opponent."

That suits his captain, Jarome Iginla, just fine.

"It's one game. We want to win the game, but so does every other team. Fifteen teams aren't gonna do it," he said.

"I think in the past we get caught up in it. It makes you tense. We have a good team. We believe in what we're doing. We've got to have fun. We do those things, we'll get results."

They've seen what happens when they don't do all those things.

"That wasn't that good. Bad!" Conroy said while recalling last year's opener. "They embarrassed us in the first game. What, was it 6-2?"

He's reminded they were shut out completely.

"OK," Conroy laughed. "I was gonna give us a couple."

They'll need at least a couple to get a win tonight against the team that snatched the division title away from them last spring. As much as they'd like to believe it's only one game, it's an important one.

"A win matters," said Regehr. "It's important to have a good start to the season because you can get out in front of teams."

"We want to be in that position (having home ice in the playoffs) this year. The way to do that is to beat them. Once you do that, you worry about the next teams."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos