Flames hope break will stop skid

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:37 AM ET

CALGARY — It’s not exactly three days grace when you consider the backlash the Flames have been dealing with following a sixth-straight loss.

But the longest break since Christmas has provided the team with what might be their most important period of pause this season.

“I think this is a good time for us to kind of reflect on the past stretch of games. Maybe we need that a little bit — let it sink in that the way we’re playing isn’t good enough,” Flames winger Eric Nystrom said Saturday afternoon following an off-ice workout at the Saddledome.

“But it’s also a time for us to work on some things and get some rest and get refocused for this next stretch, because we’ve got to put together a pretty good run here so we can get ourselves back where we want to be.”

Excluding the two-week freeze for the Vancouver Games next month, the three days between games before the team hosts the St. Louis Blues Monday night is the Flames’ longest break remaining before the playoffs.

And waking up Friday morning without one of those eight Western Conference spots in their possession has provided plenty of talk about what they need to do when they return to game action.

“We’ve had meetings. We’ve talked about it,” said centre Craig Conroy. “At some time, I think you just say, ‘Let’s come in and do what we have to do and not talk about it right now.’ ”

The Flames did that Saturday afternoon, avoiding deep discussion while popping in for a mandatory off-ice workout on what might have been a complete day off under better circumstances.

“We’re not deserving of days off right now,” Nystrom said.

Conroy expressed the same sentiment, word for word a few minutes later.

“You have to earn time off,” Conroy said. “We don’t need a break. We need to work on some things.

“You expect to be here everyday when things aren’t going well.”

Things couldn’t be worse with the team mired in a six-game losing streak. The club, which convened at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino for the Flames’ annual charity poker tournament Saturday night, have just one victory in their last nine contests..

At least the distraction of full houses and straight flushes was a chance for the players to get together without having to think about hockey during the lowest point of their season so far.

But Conroy was prepared to answer as many questions from fans at the tables as the team has faced from the media on a daily basis since the 9-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks last Monday.

“Everyone talks about hockey the whole time,” Conroy said of the tournament.

“Unless you get a table that’s a little forgiving, it can be a lot of talking about hockey. That’s what they’re there for.

“You’re not getting away from it 100%.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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