Flames out to slay East beasts

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

A make-or-break-trip?

OK, that may be a little heavy-handed, since we’re talking about a five-game trek that will conclude before the Grey Cup game is played.

Still, the Calgary Flames road swing which starts Sunday in Detroit against the host Red Wings (3 p.m., SNCalgary/Fan 960) looms rather large.

“It is a big one, but you try not to look at it that way,” said Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. “Yeah, it’s going to be a tough trip, but everybody goes thorough those. We’re going to busy, but it all evens out over the year.”

If that’s not challenging enough, the Flames also play the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins during this swing into the Eastern time zone — and all those games are played over seven days.

When you look at the records of those teams — save for the Devils — and factor the pace of puck drops, it won’t be easy.

They’re trying to see it all as just another hurdle to overcome.

“It doesn’t matter how close the games are together or where we’re playing, we need to win some games,” Bouwmeester said. “That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter about the schedule.”

The Flames have just two wins in their last nine outings, but they did leave Calgary with extra spring in their collective step — and not just because they were escaping the snow and the cold which has gripped the city the past week.

It’s amazing what the 7-2 win Friday night over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks has done.

“It was a must-win game,” Bouwmeester said. ”You lose that, you’re four-games below .500, and it doesn’t matter how many are left — that’s tough. It was big to beat that team, too. We haven’t had a lot of success against them.”

Now, to put it in the rear-view mirror and build off it.

After all, nobody’s going to bow their heads because the Flames beat the Blackhawks who aren’t as powerful as they were last season.

“We’ve got good feelings in here after that, and it’s huge, but the bottom line is we have to get more wins than losses on this trip,” Flames defenceman Mark Giordano said. “That has to be our mindset — a desperate team that wins more than it loses on this trip.”

After all, the Flames still remain south of the even-water mark with their 8-10 record and sitting 14th in the NHL’s Western Conference.

Beating the Blackhawks was simply a step in the right direction.

“It’s a start,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “We dug ourselves a hole. There is time. There are teams that have a tough first 20 games, and people count them out, and a team or two nobody had a chance to regain some momentum climbs back up and makes the playoffs.

“That can be us. We just have a lot more work to do and have to play confident.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

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