Flames seeking to march over Blues

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:04 PM ET

In three days, the Calgary Flames will have the blues unless they take out the Blues.

Staring across from the Flames Sunday night at the Saddledome is a team sitting where they were just a couple months ago.

So this home-and-home series concluding Tuesday — the last one the Flames have with anybody this season — could ultimately bury the Blues or give them a spark in getting back in the playoff picture.

Despite facing the 13th-place club in the Western Conference, the Flames are not heading into this series lightly, especially since they have dropped a pair of games at home this week.

“It will be a battle for four points over three days,” said Flames centre Matt Stajan. “There are no easy games in this league, especially against a team battling for their playoff lives like they are.

“There is still a quarter of the season left. A lot can change in a 10-game span, let alone 20 games. We’ve proved that.”

The Blues ended a three-game losing streak Friday night by beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-0 at Rexall Place.

In getting another huge night from newcomer Chris Stewart, the Blues proved they have firepower after a shakeup a little more than a week ago.

The team shipped out blueliner Erik Johnson and centre Jay McClement to get Stewart and defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk back from the Colorado Avalanche.

Stewart has six goals in five games since the move, and a change of scenery has done him some good.

“I was struggling a bit offensively before the trade happened,” the 23-year-old told QMI Agency. “But coming here, I seemed to have picked up where I left off last year before my injury. It definitely boosts my confidence.”

The last two times Stewart played the Flames, he has four goals, including a hat-trick in a 6-5 Colorado victory Oct. 28.

So the Flames know what the 6-foot-2, 228-lb. power forward can do when given the chance.

“I just keep seeing that Stewart name on the scoresheet and in the highlights,” Stajan said. “He’s been a big addition. I know they lost a couple of d-men, but they got a good one back, too.

“Sometimes, (a shakeup) works for you, and sometimes, it takes a while for guys to come in and mesh. They’ve played well since the trade.”

This series is the perfect chance for the Flames to get back on track. Since the Heritage Classic, the team has had inconsistent stretches and gone away from the style that put them back into the playoff picture.

In a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Tuesday and a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks Friday, the Flames had breakdowns that led to goals.

Before that, they were on a stretch of 7-0-2 on home ice, including a 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens at McMahon Stadium.

The Blues may get another boost with the possible return of starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who has been out since Feb. 14 due to a hand injury.

Rookie Ben Bishop picked up his first career solo shutout Friday in Edmonton, but the Blues are obviously a better team with their No.-1 man in goal. Halak is making the trip and could be activated.

The Flames are just trying to concentrate on playing their own system and not worrying about the opponent.

“We will try to get back on track, play our game,” said Flames blueliner Mark Giordano. “This is a big home-and-home series. They are inclined to get back into it. We have to get as many points as possible to stay in the playoff position.”


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