Flames try to reverse fortunes vs. Avs

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:49 PM ET

Maybe some new blood will keep the same old thing from happening.

The Calgary Flames are winless against the Colorado Avalanche in four tries this season.

It’s the next stop on Desperation Tour 2010, as the Flames try to overcome the odds against them making the playoffs.

“They’ve changed, but it’s a tough place to play,” said Flames winger Niklas Hagman, who hasn’t seen much of the Avalanche since his days with the Dallas Stars.

“I don’t think I’ve played against them this year, but what I’ve seen and read, they work hard, their goalie has played well.”

Goaltender Craig Anderson has been one of the big surprises of this season as the club’s starter. He was signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer.

Also impressive is the way the team — coached by first-year bench boss Joe Sacco — hasn’t faltered after starting the season hot.

“They don’t give up,” said Hagman. “You’ve got to match that, and compete even harder.

“It’s a big game for us.”

Big has become an everyday expression for the Flames, who have 13 games remaining and need approximately 16-20 points to make the playoffs.

“We need a win. That’s the bottom line,” said winger David Moss, who has seen plenty of the Avs this year as his Flames fell by identical 3-2 scores in all four meetings so far.

“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past with those guys or in that building. We need a win.

“It’s gonna be tough, but we have to stick to our gameplan and try to do everything for 60 minutes, not just spurts of time. Really stay with it.”

That’s easier said than done.

Back-to-back losses to the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings are proof of that, and the locker-room was solemn in the minutes after Monday’s 2-1 defeat to the visiting crew from Motown.

“It’s so disappointing, it’s not easy for us to look ahead,” defenceman Steve Staios said afterward.

He’s one of the newcomers, but is well aware of the Flames’ lack of success against the Avalanche so far this campaign.

“I’m hoping that it’s a chance for everybody just to lay it on the line and play full out,” Staios said.

“Knowing the situation is tight, that we can play a good road game and take some chances and score some goals as well.”

The Avalanche are still battling the Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division.

The Flames are battling for their playoff lives.

At times, Calgary’s work ethic has been questioned. Hagman doesn’t believe that’s the problem right now.

“I’m 100% sure that everybody is trying their best and working hard, but we’ve just got to, as a five-man unit, play a little bit smarter,” Hagman said.

“We’ve still got games left. It’s still in our hands. We play a lot of teams that are in the (playoff) mix.

“(We) try to keep the mentality positive here, because we need to play well.

“Play better and win. That’s the bottom line.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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