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Posted On Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:01 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Flames

CALGARY -- It's not too early for the Calgary Flames to be looking both in front of them and over their shoulder.

Holding the second of two wild-card spots in the Western Conference heading into action Thursday against the Minnesota Wild, the Flames are keeping tabs on those teams around them.

"We have to be aware, it's our business," said Calgary coach Bob Hartley, who is expected to ice an identical lineup that beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Tuesday. "Obviously we're going to look [at the other scores] but at the same time we're just going to play our game. Once we're on the ice we can't focus on anything other than our job and doing our job. That's the fun part of [our situation]. We're starting February and we're right there, in the playoff picture, and that's motivating. We feel it from the fans and we feel it in the city. Just go out there and let's do our job and do it as good as we can and enjoy it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 3:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Flames

CALGARY -- The Buffalo Sabres are hoping the All-Star break can take the sting out of an 11-game losing streak and help right the ship in the process.

"Sometimes when you're in the storm you don't see where you're heading," said coach Ted Nolan, whose Sabres take on the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

"When you step back a little bit and refocus and re-energize yourself, you see what the ultimate goal is. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks. They didn't become the Chicago Blackhawks overnight. They had a lot of miserable years to get where they are. Pittsburgh did the same thing. We're going through that rebuild phase.

"We're going to hit some nasty storms, but if you have someone up on that flagpole saying, 'Hey, this is the direction we're going and we have to stay the course.'"

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Posted On Friday, 01.09.2015 / 2:24 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Flames

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid will return to the lineup Friday against the Florida Panthers with a whole new perspective.

Smid, who returns after missing 10 games because of an upper-body injury, and wife Ashley welcomed twins into the world Christmas Eve.

"You hate to admit it, but nothing else really matters," Smid said. "Hockey doesn't matter as much. Our family just got bigger. I'm going to be focused on that."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 2:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Flames

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund has shown a lot of patience. It's about to pay off.

The 25-year-old is set to suit up in his first game after missing 29 straight with an abdominal strain Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

"It's a great feeling," Backlund said following Calgary's morning skate. "I'm really excited to get back playing here. It's been a long time. I'm just really excited. It's going to be a great feeling to step on the ice."

Backlund hasn't played since late October and had an abdominal procedure in November to correct a strain. He resumed skating in December and joined teammates in practices in the New Year.

The decision to return against Detroit was ultimately his.

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Posted On Friday, 01.02.2015 / 3:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Flames

CALGARY -- New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey can relate to where the Calgary Flames have been. He can see where Calgary is heading too.

Having been through one of his own, Hickey can see the progress in the Flames rebuild.

"Being from here, you understand they've got some really good core pieces," said Hickey, a Calgary native. "What their coach has done getting everyone to buy in, it's noticeable. I think everyone around the League would say they're a team that plays hard.

"They play the right way and it's similar to us. They maybe didn't have to suffer as long, but certainly one of the surprising teams and more improved teams this year."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 2:26 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Flames

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames rookie Josh Jooris isn't about to take the Edmonton Oilers lightly.

Facing the Oilers on Wednesday in the Battle of Alberta for the second time in five days, Jooris knows the value of beating the Flames' provincial rival, who snapped a nine-game losing streak (0-7-2) in a 3-2 shootout win Tuesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

"They're coming off a big win," said Jooris, who will return to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury. "I think it's kind of a fresh start. They're 1-1 in the post-Christmas break. Any team in this League is dangerous. You can't take any team in this League for granted. The fact that we beat them in our building a couple of nights ago, I think that's some extra fire for them. We can't worry about them; we just have to worry about our game tonight."

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Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 3:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Flames

CALGARY -- The Los Angeles Kings might have underestimated Johnny Gaudreau a week ago. They won't again.

Seven days after Gaudreau ignited the Calgary Flames with a hat trick to spur a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in Los Angeles, defenseman Drew Doughty vowed his Kings wouldn't make the same mistake a second time when they visit Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

"We know what to expect from him now," Doughty said. "We maybe underestimated him a little bit in the first game, but not this time.

"He's a good player and we've got to pay special attention to him. He's on their top line and we've got to shut him down."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.27.2014 / 3:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Flames

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are putting the Battle of Alberta on the backburner as each club tries to shake its respective slump.

"I don't think location is a huge priority right now. We need to get a win and it doesn't much matter where," said general manager Craig MacTavish, whose Oilers have won three straight at Scotiabank Saddledome. "We've had great history against the Flames and great rivalries against the Flames for many, many years. I think it's dying down a little bit right now, but we're in search of a win, for sure."

The Oilers (7-21-7) haven't won in eight straight games and have one win in their past 20.

They'll line up against the Flames (18-15-3), who themselves have just one win in their previous nine. It came in the Flames final game before the holiday break by way of a 4-3 overtime win Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

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Posted On Friday, 12.19.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Flames

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames insist they don't need to work harder to snap a six-game losing streak. They just need to work a little smarter.

The Flames, who last won Dec. 4, plan to simplify things when they host the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

"Let's relax a little bit. That's our message to our guys," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "I really believe that they want to achieve so well, they want to perform so well, that sometimes more is not better. We're pressing, we're pushing. But sometimes it's not always the right situation.

"It's just a matter of getting back to our game. Let's cool down. The thing that I appreciate the most from our guys is the effort. But right now let's put a little bit more focus and poise in our efforts. I think that we're going to get back to the team that we were."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.16.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Flames

CALGARY -- The New York Rangers are rolling. They're focused on keeping it that way.

Winners of three in a row, the Rangers are looking for a three-game sweep of Western Canada at the expense of the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

"I'm really focused on our team and how we need to play," said coach Alain Vigneault, who has seen the Rangers earn wins against the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers to start a four-game road trip that will conclude Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. "We did what we had to do in Edmonton. We played a real strong game in Vancouver. We're on a streak here of three wins and we need to put a streak together. It's a real tough conference and we need to focus on tonight and our game."

The Rangers' game has been working of late. Not only have they won three straight to match a season-high, they've also allowed six goals in seven wins spread over their past 10 games.

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Quote of the Day

We have to develop into a good team. We have to develop the pieces now that are a little more evident and in place to become a good team. It's not there yet.

— Sabres coach Dan Bylsma on new Buffalo players working together