Alex Tanguay was the first skater to hit the ice for Thursday’s practice session at the Saddledome.
Maybe making up for lost time?
The Calgary Flames first-line winger and assists leader was stapled to the bench for the latter half of the second period of Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, watching the action for just over 10 minutes before returning to a regular shift in the final frame.
“I guess we just have to be better,” Tanguay said. “You just focus on the next shift, that’s all you can do. In the past, I would dwell on it and feel bad about it, but you just try to focus on your next shift and make sure your next presence is good on the ice. That’s about everything you can do.”
Tanguay wasn’t alone, with linemate Olli Jokinen getting an extended breather, too.
Jokinen and Tanguay each logged only four shifts in the second period of Wednesday’s contest, and neither appeared after the midway point of the middle frame.
Captain Jarome Iginla was spared a stint on the pine, taking shifts with a variety of guys while his usual linemates waiting for a chance to redeem themselves.
After Thursday’s skate at the Saddledome, Jokinen insisted his mindset hasn’t changed despite logging a little less ice-time than usual against the Northwest Division leaders.
“There’s no time to worry in this league,” Jokinen said. “Once you start worrying about things, the train will go by you. You have to stay focused, and whenever you get your name called, you’ve got to leave everything out there and play like it’s your last shift.”
It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Wednesday’s loss marked their last shift together — at least for a while — but Iginla, Jokinen and Tanguay will likely be skating side-by-side-by-side once again in Friday’s home showdown with the Detroit Red Wings.
Brendan Morrison, David Moss and Rene Bourque formed the second unit in Thursday’s light-hearted practice, while Mikael Backlund skated between Tom Kostopoulos and sudden scoring ace Tim Jackman.
Matt Stajan and Curtis Glencross were joined by winger Niklas Hagman, a healthy scratch in Vancouver. Forwards Craig Conroy and Ales Kotalik are expected to watch Friday’s game from the press-box.
After rattling off a season-high four consecutive victories, the Flames have now suffered back-to-back losses.
But Tanguay, anxious to spin around a clean sheet prior to Thursday’s practice, wasn’t wasting his time worrying about what has happened in the past.
“We said from the game in Dallas that we needed to win two games out of three, and we’ve won four and lost two since then,” Tanguay said. “We’re going to lose some games. Obviously, you want to put a better effort than we did the last two games, but we just have to focus on tomorrow now. Not much we can do about last night.”