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Flames like effort, but want more

by Peter Zuurbier / Calgary Flames
Disappointments have been coming in two’s lately for the Flames, a hard-fought 2-0 loss to the Penguins last week, two goals disallowed during the same power play against Minnesota on Saturday, and two defenseman injured blocking shots on the same shift against San Jose Monday night.

With the remainder of the season comprised of three sets of two games back-to-back, head coach Mike Keenan is concerned with steadying the bow and keeping the team on course heading towards the playoffs.

“When you’re struggling things are never as bad as they seem, and when you’re rising high you’re never as good a team as you think you are,” said Keenan.
Robyn Regehr

Keenan was pleased with the effort of his players over the last two games, and with a sustained effort, the coach is convinced the team will achieve the desired results.

“We need to do more of what we did the last two games. We limited scoring chances. That’s how you win playoff hockey, If you play like we did last night (against San Jose) you would win a seven-game series.”

The team was satisfied with their play against the Sharks, but all agree more will be needed as they head off on the road, beginning in Dallas Thursday  (6:30 Flames PPV, Fan 960). The trip continues in Minnesota on Friday night, (6 p.m. Sportsnet, The Fan 960).

“We’ve made big strides the last two games, but when a team is struggling sometimes it takes a bit extra to get through,” said Robyn Regehr.

“Guys expect lots from each other, there are lots of expectations around Calgary… We want to win and take advantage of what’s in front of us.”

Adrian Aucoin echoed his blueline partner’s sentiments.

“We know how good we can be. We’re our own biggest critics… there can be as much talk as we want but we’re the ones who have to do it,” said Aucoin.

With the regular season about to pass into their rearview mirror, team captain Jarome Iginla knows the team needs to improve their performance level.

“We know yesterday was solid, but we have to be better. There are still six games left and lots of points on the board, we’ve got to keep working, keep trying to improve,” said Iginla.

“We’re out to prove we want a championship. We’ve got six games to win the division and give ourselves a better chance in the playoffs.”

Regehr is one of the players leftover from the 2004 playoff run, and, like Iginla, he knows finishing the season off strongly is key to extending the season.

“You want to be your best for the last 10 games and get your game in order to play your best. That’s what we play the regular season for,” said Regehr. “It’s a matter of building your game up as a team and individually.”

Unfortunately for the Flames, the competition for the division title has toughened up in the waning weeks of the season with the Vancouver Canucks right at the Flames heels in the battle for first in the Northwest Division. The players, however, refuse to acknowledge Vancouver’s encroachment as a distraction.

“We’ve got six games to go, we can’t worry about Vancouver,” said Olli Jokinen

“There’s too much time left to be watching the clock,” agreed Iginla.

Cory Sarich
The two defenseman who were hurt blocking shots during last night’s contest, Cory Sarich and Jim Vandermeer,  were excused from practice Tuesday as they underwent treatment and further assessment.

Just about everyone in the Pengrowth Saddledome on Monday saw Sarich take a Joe Thornton shot off his foot. On the same shift fVandermeer also blocked a shot.
Keenan said following practice that it had not been determined if the pair would make the upcoming two-game road trip.

"We needed to give them a rest today. They were being assessed and we have to see what the results are," said Keenan. "Everybody saw what happened to Cory. He's got a pretty sore foot right now."

Vandermeer got off the ice on his own but Sarich needed some help to get the bench after taking the slapshot full-on the foot. He shook it off and returned to the game.

"You always cringe a little when you see players go down," said Keenan.

The Flames have been playing defenseman Adam Pardy at forward lately as they are carrying seven defencemen. And Rhett Warrener, out all season because of shoulder surgery, is practicing with the team. However, Keenan said there has been no talk of activating Warrener off the long-term injury list.

"That's completely up to the medical team," said Keenan.

With or without a full compliment of defensemen, the Flames are facing the toughest games of the season, and they are ready to take the challenge head-on.

 “We still believe we can win it, and that’s what we’re going out to do. But we’re not looking past Dallas,” said Jarome Iginla.

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