Flames stay focused against Avs

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:25 PM ET

DENVER -- A Mile High elixir for the Calgary Flames.

On the surface, it would seem that way.

After losing consecutive games to a couple of the NHL's hottest teams, the Flames are in need of a respite. They may have found it by facing the Colorado Avalanche, who are as cold as a Rocky Mountain stream.

Heading into Monday night's clash, the Avs are in the throes of a seven-game losing skid, the worst slide since the Quebec Nordiques relocated to Denver 15 years ago.

A sense of relief should come over the Flames, right?

"Thinking that way is the worst thing you can do. Those are dangerous games, teams work hard to snap out of it," said centre Matt Stajan. "Think of when we played Ottawa. We had to play a solid game. You saw in that first 20 minutes, we didn't play well and almost shot ourselves in the foot. We have to think about playing the way we did the last 40 minutes (Saturday in Vancouver), shore up special teams a bit, and go from there."

Yes, salary-cap parity does mean no game is a sure thing, but times are tough right now for the Avalanche, even with the return of Peter Forsberg.

All seven of those losses have come in regulation. In them, the Avs have been outscored 26-11 and have gone zero-for-20 on the powerplay.

Home hasn't been kind, either, since they've lost three straight and five of six in Denver.

Moreso, their struggles have been going on for nearly eight weeks.

Go back to Dec. 22. The Avs were sitting fourth in the Western Conference and 11 points up on the 14th-place Flames. They were still in a playoff position and nine points up on the Flames after the action on Jan. 13.

The Flames may be outside the Western Conference's top eight, but they are now eight points ahead of Colorado thanks to their 13-4-5 run.

"It's important to think about how we play to have success," cautioned head coach Brent Sutter. "We know what type of team they are. We know they've added a good hockey player in their lineup in Peter Forsberg. You're going to see a high-level, emotional game."

Yes, the return of Forsberg, who finally appears to have found the solution to the foot problems which seemingly ended his career prematurely. He's failed to net a point in two games since returning, but this will be his first home game, so you know there will be an extra buzz.

"The fans will be excited, I'm sure, and there will be energy in the building, but we can feed off that, too," Stajan said. "Hopefully, we'll use that to our advantage as well."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca twitter.com/RandySportak


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