Duck-hunting time for Flames

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

It seems they prefer to be the hunters rather than the hunted.

In the Calgary Flames’ past three games, the easiest one on paper was Sunday’s meeting with the Minnesota Wild.

But after wins over teams in playoff positions — Colorado and San Jose — the Flames had a 4-3 letdown against the lower-seeded Wild.

Now the ninth-place Flames must go Duck hunting, as 11th-place Anaheim visits the Saddledome Tuesday night

(7 p.m., Sportsnet).

It’s once again a team fighting for its post-season chances and the Flames need to be ready.

“We have to make sure the level of desperation is higher in our room than it is in theirs,” said Flames assistant coach Dave Lowry.

“We know if we continue to play as a group, we give ourselves a good opportunity to win every night.

“When we’re a physical team, that usually means we’re skating and are involved emotionally. When we have those attributes in our game, we’re tough to beat.

“For whatever reason, it wasn’t at the level it should be (Sunday).”

The Ducks have won four straight games in an attempt to get back in the playoff picture. They are still five points back of the Flames heading into Tuesday’s game, but as recent NHL results have shown, positioning is irrelevant in most matchups.

The last-place Edmonton Oilers recorded victories over the Detroit Red Wings and the San Jose Sharks last week because with the pressure off, the Oilers were loose and relaxed.

The Flames could use a dose of that.

“That’s the key,” said Flames defenceman Steve Staios, a former Oiler as of last month.

“In our situation, we have a sense of urgency. Sometimes if you get too urgent and uptight, you don’t make the right plays and can’t make proper decisions.

“It’s a fine line. You try and learn through experience on how to deal with it. We have a lot of experience in the room that we can handle this situation.”

With 10 games remaining, the Flames know the easiest way to get back into the top eight is to stop scoreboard watching and just win their own games.

“We have to bounce back against Anaheim at home,” said Flames centre Craig Conroy.

“We can’t afford to lose — maybe one more — but that’s about it. We have to just win our games and right now we haven’t put a big enough string together.

“We can’t win two and lose one. We have to win four or five in a row.”

The Ducks game is the

first of a possible 10 must-

win games.

“We know we put ourselves in this position,” said Lowry.

“It’s about winning at this time of year. We’re in this business to win and there is pressure every night to win games.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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