We’re not really thinking about it as a division game. We just know every game is going to be huge from here on in. We’re doing a good job so far of taking care of them. - Lance Bouma
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames have Pacific Division dominance.
With a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, the Flames improved their mark against rivals in the Pacific to a League-best 18-5-1 record. Only the New York Islanders have a better mark against their own division, posting an 18-2-0 mark in Metropolitan play.
It's fueled the Flames.
“They’re just all big games,” said Calgary forward Lance Bouma, whose goal 1:41 into the third period stood as the game-winner against the Canucks. “We’re not really thinking about it as a division game. We just know every game is going to be huge from here on in. We’re doing a good job so far of taking care of them.
“Everything is so close and everyone knows the standings. Every game is so important and every shift is so important. We have to make sure we stick with our game the entire way through."
It was an important two points, Sean Monahan admitted.
But even he couldn’t precisely pinpoint why his club has had so much success playing inside the division.
He chalked it up to getting up for their rivals.
“We play those guys more often and once you’ve played teams more than once or twice throughout a season it gives you that rival and you want to win those games more,” Monahan said. “When we play Vancouver obviously we have that extra little bit and find ways to get those two points.”
Calgary currently holds the second of two wild-card positions in the Western Conference and although the win against Vancouver didn’t move them up the standings, it did offer some breathing room.
The Flames are two points clear of the Minnesota Wild and three up on the Los Angeles Kings. Both have one game at hand over Calgary. The win pushed the Flames even with Vancouver, though the Canucks have one game at hand.
Only one point separates the Flames and San Jose Sharks, too. Calgary has one game at hand over the Sharks, who currently occupy second in the Pacific.
The standings, Monahan admitted, heighten the importance of two points.
“It was a big game,” he said. “I think everyone was moving their feet tonight. I think when we do that we’re a good hockey team. From now on, I think every game is a huge game and every game is going to feel like a playoff game the rest of this push.”
The focus isn’t on the teams surrounding them, though.
Currently holding a playoff spot of their own, goaltender Karri Ramo suggested the focus should be within and not on the out-of-town scoreboard.
“I don't think anybody has time to watch it in that type of game, but every game right now is a huge game,” said Ramo, who made 28 saves for his first win since Dec. 4. “Nobody has to mention that, everybody knows it. We are in a really good spot. Everybody loves to play these games. I don't think anybody feels the pressure that it would be too much. This is why we play and this is where we want to be.
“We have to keep playing, keep focusing.”
That’s the plan.
“We have those segments every seven games and that’s done a good job of preparing us for this stretch here,” Bouma said. “We just have to continue to focus on ourselves. If we do that we’ll take care of business.”