SUN Hockey Pool

Better be good for what ails Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 PM ET

A three-game losing skid has the Calgary Flames needing to change their fortunes in a hurry.

The tonic may be right before their eyes Thursday night at the Saddledome.

On deck for the suddenly struggling Flames is a visit from a Colorado Avalanche team which went into its clash with the Vancouver Canucks late Wednesday with just one victory in 19 outings.

It’s a string which has the Avalanche franchise looking very much like it did during the bleak Quebec Nordiques days, but that’s not why the Flames are under the gun to collect a victory.

“We have to win this one,” succinctly said Flames defenceman Cory Sarich.

“We know who our opponent is, but we have to win a whole bunch of games coming up.”

The Flames are among the quagmire of teams fighting for the final few playoff positions.

The Western Conference realistically has only 11 teams in the fight — unless the Columbus Blue Jackets or

St. Louis Blues can run the table from now to the end of the regular season.

The Flames have received help from other squads lately — for example, the Nashville Predators fell to the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night, and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Anaheim Ducks the night before — but haven’t helped themselves in the past week.

Therefore, their hold on a spot in the top eight has become more and more precarious by the day.

In fact, all the clubs around them have played fewer games.

“We know they have some games in hand, but we also have some games against those teams,” said left winger Rene Bourque.

“If we beat them and get our game together, I still believe we’ll be in the playoffs when the season ends.”

It is true the Flames hold their own fate over the remaining 10 games.

Win enough of them and they won’t need any help to make the Stanley Cup party.

The operative word is win.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, if we get to our game, we could be playing the best team in the league and still have a great chance of winning,” said defenceman Steve Staios.

“I think we’ve proven that. It’s a matter of us getting to that level and play with that structure.”

Tanguay misses practice

The big news for the Flames in Wednesday’s practice was which new faces were on the ice — long-injured centre Daymond Langkow and recalled forward Ales Kotalik.

However, of note was the fact both Alex Tanguay and Freddy Modin didn’t skate, as well as injured forwards Brendan Morrison and David Moss.

Modin continues to battle through a bad back, while Tanguay was out due to “maintenance” according to head coach Brent Sutter.


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