As if the situation wasn’t already daunting enough for the Calgary Flames.
The club, which is on a three-game losing skid and been dumped in seven of eight games, now faces the Chicago Blackhawks, who have absolutely owned them the past few seasons.
When the Flames play host to the Blackhawks Friday night, they’ll be looking to snap an eight-game regular season losing skid against the Windy City crew. Not only have the Blackhawks swept all four games in each of the last two seasons, they also won a playoff series in the spring of 2009.
In fact, the Hawks have won 11 of the last 12 regular-season games.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re playing a team that’s coming off a Stanley Cup championship last year and a team we’ve struggled with over the last couple of years,” said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr.
“They’ve got their good group of young players, but they’ve lost a few really key role players. It’s a great opportunity and a great opponent for us to get our game going again.”
The Blackhawks said goodbye to several players after winning the title, among them goalies Antti Niemi and Cristobal Huet, defenceman Brent Sopel and forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish and John Madden.
Chicago arrived in the Stampede City with a 10-9-2 record, but is coming off a 5-0 beatdown of the Edmonton Oilers.
“Yeah, they’re a tough test, the defending Stanley Cup champions, but at the same time, they’re beatable,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “They’re a team ahead of us, but are catchable with a few wins.
“We respect them and respect their players, but at the same time, we have to be confident.”
Hard to imagine the Flames being a confident bunch. When they’re not losing due to a blown lead, their inability to score despite holding a decided edge in play is costing them. Being remotely positive would seem a tough task.
“The hard thing is you’re really getting bombarded from all sides,” Regehr said. “Whether you read stuff in the media or watch it on TV or anything like that, you’re getting bombarded whether it’s positive or negative.
“You do see that, and as a player and person you have to deal with it on a daily basis and remain focused to do your job the best you can.”