SUN Hockey Pool

Flames and Blues, Round 2

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

Expect a lot of close games the rest of the season, with the Calgary Flames playing every last one of their remaining 18 contests against Western Conference rivals.

It’s difficult to imagine, however, the Flames and St. Louis Blues battling it out exactly the way they did in Sunday’s first segment of a home-and-home set between the two clubs.

The Flames came away with a 1-0 victory, shutting out the Blues to snap their string of 111 games with at least one goal.

Head coach Brent Sutter called it a game of “cat and mouse.”

It was ugly. A little boring.

Tuesday’s contest might be even uglier now that the Blues have pawned off a couple more bodies since that meeting.

They shipped out gritty forward Brad Winchester in a deal with the Anaheim Ducks before Monday’s deadline, and sent one of their top players to the Buffalo Sabres immediately after the loss in Calgary Sunday.

“The reality is your record is your record and you have to make decisions based on upon the fact,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong told reporters Monday.

That’s why the Flames chose to make minor tweaks, leaving their active roster untouched, giving up only a seventh-round pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for veteran winger Fredrik Modin and scooping defenceman Brett Carson from the Carolina Hurricanes off waivers.

But they know they can’t take the Blues lightly. They can’t afford to take any team lightly at this point of the season. And this contest comes on the road in St. Louis.

“We haven’t played a lot of them this year,” Sutter said of the home-and-home series. “It’s the time of year it doesn’t matter who you’ve got to play, you’ve got to play well.

“It’s nice to win that first one and now we have to come into their building, try to play well and get this second one, too.”

They need the second one just to keep pace in the crazy playoff race.

Win and they move up as high as fourth, fifth and sixth nightly. Lose, and they could find themselves around 10th or 11th.

“Every game is like that for us now,” said winger Curtis Glencross.

“Teams have a couple of games in hand on us and we’ve just got to do our part.

“Tomorrow’s just another start and another big game for us.”

“I guess that’s what the league wanted a few years back,” added goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who earned his fifth shutout of the season Sunday night at the Saddledome. “That’s what it is now.”

That’s when someone suggested it must be fun to wake up every morning and have to check the standings to see where they’re at.

“Yeah, I don’t know about fun,” Kiprusoff said with a grin. “I’d rather be up there with a 20-point lead.

“But we are where we are and we have to enjoy it and keep winning.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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