The minutes are adding up for the top two forward lines these days.
With all the injuries -- seven forwards and none expected to return for Sunday's clash against the Minnesota Wild -- head coach Brent Sutter has been relying extra heavily on his biggest guns.
And they're loving it.
"There are no excuses for not getting in the game," left winger Curtis Glencross said in the aftermath of Friday's win over the Winnipeg Jets. "When you're playing 20-plus minutes, it's in for a long night, but when you play a little more, it's fun."
Fun when you're on the ice seemingly every third shift.
And all kinds of fun when you're racking up points, too.
With the latest wave of injuries, the Flames have put more load on their top two lines.
The response has been two wins, with the pair of trios leading the way.
In the last two victories -- 5-4 over Montreal on Tuesday and a 5-3 decision versus Winnipeg Friday -- the line of Alex Tanguay, Matt Stajan and Jarome Iginla have combined for five goals and 13 points.
Olli Jokinen's trio with David Moss and Curtis Glencross has netted three goals and eight points.
The need is more of the same versus the Wild (4 p.m., Sportsnet West).
Nobody seems to criticize the Anaheim Ducks for nearly all of their offence coming from six forwards when they're winning, and the Flames are in a spot where they must follow the same formula.
Against the Jets, five of the team's dozen forwards played less than 10 minutes. Other than the skaters on the top two lines, the only one to reach double digits in ice time was Tom Kostopoulos.
"They were double shifting their top lines, and we match lines, so we just kept going out there," Tanguay said. "It's nice to have ice time. It's nice to play.
"It's a little different, the coach would try to protect us if we were playing back-to-back (nights) but have a couple of days to rest. It felt good."
With some luck, a few players should be returning soon, with Tim Jackman, Blake Comeau and Lance Bouma likely the closest.
However, until Michael Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and Mikael Backlund are back from their ailments, the Flames won't have many more scoring threats.
Therefore, watch for the heavy reliance on those top lines, even amidst a ridiculous March in which the team plays 17 games.
"As a player, you want to play. You train so hard in the summer time -- making sure you get ready for that -- and try to maintain it through the season," said Tanguay, who is currently on a roll with 14 points in eight games. "It's nice to get the ice time, get in that rhythm. With the amount of bodies we have out, our top six have to be our top six on a nightly basis.
"We're certainly looking forward to trying to do that."
To their credit, those players are delivering.
Glencross, for example, is riding a career-best six-game goal-scoring streak and has matched his career high of 24 goals despite missing 15 games due to a knee injury.
"You have to get in (the playoffs), that's the main thing, and you have to rely on your top players," Glencross said. "It's like that for every team. The young guys bring those energy shifts, and have done well, but if you're top players aren't your best, you're not going to win."
Besides, it's safe to say players are not as tired if the wins are adding up.
"Absolutely. When you're sitting here after the game, you have a big sigh," Glencross said. "But it's a lot easier when you have that sigh after a win instead of a loss, and you're hanging your head wondering what else you could have done out there."
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