Flames refocus following breather

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Every hockey player knows the feeling of hitting the ice after some time away.

Leg muscles ache and the wind isn't there. It can be painful.

The Calgary Flames used their first practice back after 10 days off to shake off the rust and get back in action.

And the coaching staff eased them back into it.

"We just wanted to get our legs back under us and get handling the puck," said Flames coach Brent Sutter. "All the guys looked pretty good.

"They understood the situation leaving and what we need to do when we get back.

"We will have an opportunity the next few days to get back into the systems. The first couple days will be getting our legs going, and then we'll start implementing our system."

The Flames don't play again until next Wednesday, and they could be on the ice for six straight days leading up to it.

But after packing in 62 outings before the Olympic break, the Flames enjoyed some down time. Some players took sunny vacations, while others decompressed at home.

"It works differently for different individuals," said veteran blueliner Cory Sarich.

"I tried, for a good part of it, to just forget everything.

"A lot of times, it's almost like a fresh start. But right now, we've got a week left, and being back at the rink, your mind automatically starts going. It's shifting gears already."

Although the Flames entered the break in a playoff spot (eighth), it didn't mean Sutter could relax completely.

"Physically, you get away from it. But mentally, you certainly don't," Sutter said. "You are thinking about the last part of the season, and this last stretch, what you need to do and how you need to play to be successful.

"You start focusing on that, and it hasn't really left my mind."


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