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Flames reload in bid to beat Blue Jackets

Edmonton's Ryan Jones can't get by Calgary's goaltender Leland Irving during the third period of...

Edmonton's Ryan Jones can't get by Calgary's goaltender Leland Irving during the third period of the Edmonton Oilers' NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:25 PM ET

Some of those age-old adages just don't apply.

The Calgary Flames can't get even after dropping a 3-1 game to the Edmonton Oilers Friday night because it was the final chapter of this season's Battle of Alberta.

"We've got to be mad," said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. "It wasn't good to lose to a team below us in the standings.

"We've got to reload and be ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They're playing spoiler, too, so they're in the same position (as the Oilers). They're playing hard, so we have to treat that game as if it's any team around us in the standings."

With 10 games remaining on the season and the Flames on the outside of the playoff picture -- albeit by a small margin -- they simply can't afford to drop games to clubs beneath them in the overall standings.

By sitting dead last in the 30-team NHL, the Blue Jackets definitely fall into that category when they meet the Flames at the Saddledome (6 p.m., Sportsnet Flames/Sportsnet 960).

However, it's been a mixed bag for the Flames in terms of success against the dozen squads who are behind them these days.

The Flames, who sit 11th in the Western Conference but 18th overall, have a 15-9-4 record against the clubs behind them.

But it's worth pointing out four of those wins have come at the expense of the Oilers and the Minnesota Wild and a couple of others came against the Montreal Canadiens. In short, they've done well versus those teams way down the ladder.

The club's record against the Blue Jackets is 1-1-1, with that lone victory coming via shootout.

It's easy to assume the Flames looked past the Oilers in the provincial capital Friday night, but having played a crazy amount of games already in March -- and finishing a stretch of four in six nights -- the Flames looked physically spent, while the Oilers came out flying, especially young guns Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

A day-off Saturday was a much-needed opportunity for the Flames to rest. They are one of five teams with 17 games this month (the others are the Boston Bruins, the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers and the San Jose Sharks).

Just as important, they must reload and prepare for a Blue Jackets team which should be tired after playing Saturday night in Vancouver and having to make the trek from the West Coast in the middle of the night.

Last time they fell to the Oilers, the Flames ended up on a four-game losing skid, with two of those defeats in extra time.

Repeating that pattern will likely mean their playoff hopes will disappear as fast as the snow on the ground during a chinook.

"I think we've done a pretty good job of staying focused, pretty even-keel. (Losing to Edmonton) isn't the end of the world for us, by any means," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "I think we've done a good job of it all year. We've had different ups and downs, and we just learn from this, go over what we can improve "¦ The secret is you go home, reload and get excited about Columbus."

Not to mention, be sure to not think about the Blue Jackets as a cellar-dweller.

"We're not in a position to take any games lightly. We're looking at every game, no matter who it is we play, as important," Iginla said. "Even though we play Columbus next, for us it's going to be the same as if we were playing San Jose, L.A. or whoever. We need to win games."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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