SUN Hockey Pool

Tanguay gets shovel ready

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

CALGARY -- Maybe the most interesting news out of Edmonton on the weekend was a tidbit from Oilers rookie Taylor Hall. He told QMI Agency of a statistic the Boston Bruins showed him during his interview before the draft -- after American Thanksgiving (Nov. 25), seven of eight teams in the top eight at that point usually stay there.

The Flames, as of Monday morning, found themselves languishing in 13th place with a four-game losing streak slapping a four-point gap behind them and the eighth and final playoff seed.

An already uphill climb is made worse when you consider eight of their next 10 games are away from home.

And these guys don't need to just snap a losing streak, they need to start a winning one if they want to make their presence felt before the turkey is carved south of the border.

"It's huge. You guys are saying the right words," Flames winger Alex Tanguay said of schedule remaining in the month of November.

"We're in a position now where we don't want to be in the standings.

"We don't want to be on the outside looking in and this month is key for us to get ourselves back in contention. We don't want to fall off the pace."

Truth is, they're well behind it. Four points doesn't seem like much, but with so many three-point games and the parity in the league being what it is, it's hard to make a charge later in the year.

They have to start one now and make life easier on themselves down the road.

"It is a big month. Points you lose now, you never get back," said head coach Brent Sutter. "You don't want to allow the field to get away from you. We have to keep up with the pace and try and accumulate as many points as you can."

The total points needed to claim a playoff berth typically fall around 95 or 96 -- and that's what the Flames are aiming for.

"We're still early in the season where you have lots of time to make up that number, but you don't want to get yourself having to make up ground and having to get 20 of the last 24 points to get into that position," said Tanguay, who wasn't surprised by the Hall/Bruins statistic.

Tanguay knows making up ground later in the year is nearly impossible.

"You can't. Especially with the reality now with the overtime that everybody gets points, it's not many nights where you'll make up two on the other team," he said.

"To get to 96 points, you have to win three out of five on a consistent basis. To make up ground on a team that's getting three out of five ... that's why this month's important.

"It's time."

Starting with a visit to the Pepsi Center to face the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night, where they'll try to end that four-game slump that started against the Avs in Calgary late last month.

"It's four games, but it can't be any more," said veteran Craig Conroy.

"We've talked about it. Such a huge game. Hate to put so much pressure on every game, but really, it is.

"We want to get out there and have a great start, a great first period against Colorado, and just build on it from there."

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