Flames keeping pace in Western Conference

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:04 AM ET

CALGARY - The goal when the Flames returned to Calgary for this six-game homestand was to be at .500 or better.

After dropping two of the first three games at the Saddledome during this spell, it looked to be an ominous task.

However, with recent wins over Colorado and St. Louis, the Flames have managed a 3-1-1 mark through the first five parts of the spell and a 4-4-1 mark overall.

Netting 10 or even 11 points in the first 10 games may be a small deal in the big picture, but it’s a big deal right now for a Flames team trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

“It is. In the short-term picture, if you get two games behind, it’s easier to fall even further back,” said centre Brendan Morrison. “I’ll be honest, our last four periods of hockey haven’t been great periods, but the positive is we found a way to win.”

The separation among the Western Conference hasn’t kicked in yet, except for the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.

However, had the Flames struggled further in this homestand, they would also be already feeling the heat to keep a playoff spot within sight.

Thus the importance of reeling in some victories the past couple of weeks at the Saddledome.

“We want to make this building a hard place to play in and make teams know it’s a tough place to come to,” said goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, whose performances in the last three starts have been crucial to the success. “But I just go one game at a time and not worry too much about homestands or anything like that.”

Before the Flames hit the road again, they have a clash with Northwest Division rival Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.

The Caucks may be the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners and Western Conference champs, but haven’t exactly come out of the gate flying.

Vancouver went into Saturday night’s late clash with the Washington Capitals sporting a 4-5-1 record and sitting last in the Northwest Division, albeit by percentage points.

“They’re in our division and if we want to get into the playoffs, we have to win games against these guys,” Morrison said. “It’s always for me a little extra special because I spent a good portion of my career there.

“I know it’s been a few years and that team’s changed a whole bunch, but I want to do well against them.

“It’s an important game.”

Plus, you know the Canucks will eventually turn their fortunes around with all their talent.

“It’s a good team, but they’re all good teams,” Kiprusoff said. “It’s not going to be easy, but we’ll try to take those points.”


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