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Flames look to regroup following winless road trip

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

You take what’s positive out of this and the rest you forget about it. We said all along the way it’s a long season. Now we’re in a situation where we’re facing adversity. We just have to keep our mind at the right place, refuel, reload a little bit.Bob Hartley

CHICAGO, IL -- There is plenty to remember. There’s plenty to forget.

There’s a lot to learn, too.

In losing 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday, the Calgary Flames went winless on their four-game road trip. But there's plenty the Flames need to retain, according to coach Bob Hartley.

“You always learn,” he said. “You take what’s positive out of this and the rest you forget about it. We said all along the way it’s a long season. Now we’re in a situation where we’re facing adversity. We just have to keep our mind at the right place, refuel, reload a little bit. We’re going in front of our fans so lets put a winning streak back on and it’s starts with one.

“After this we’re going to be playing some good hockey again.”

The team has already played strong hockey.

But tacking on a single loss before departing for Toronto to kick off the four-game, seven-day road trip, the Flames have dropped a season-high five straight games.

It’s a feeling defenceman Kris Russell wants to keep in the memory bank.

“We remember this,” Russell said. “There are things we’ve got to learn. I don’t think we can say we’ve played bad during this road trip. At the same time, we’ve lost every game. It’s not good enough. You can’t go on those lulls and expect to be a playoff team. We’ve got to change this right away.

“We’ve got an opportunity in the next few days and we’re going to take advantage of that.”

The spirits, Russell offered, aren’t at an all-time high.

How they deal with the emotion, though, is critical.

“They’re not going to be high, obviously,” Russell said. “It’s a little bit deflating to have that many consecutive losses. This is the reason we’re here. We’re pros. We know we can learn from things. We did tonight and I thought we did some things well as well.

“We’ve got to regroup and really go after the next few.”

The Flames have had plenty of chances to earn points over the past five outings.

In fact, Sunday’s loss to Chicago is the first time in the slump that Calgary has been outshot by the opposition. The Flames have been within one in the late stages of the third period in each loss as well.

It was the case in Chicago, too, before Johnny Gaudreau blew a tire at the Chicago blue line, allowing Niklas Hjalmarsson to up the puck to Jonathan Toews who in turn sent Brandon Saad in alone to beat Jonas Hiller over the glove and put the up 2-1 with 7:03 remaining in regulation.

Effort hasn’t been a problem. It just doesn’t offer up the solution.

“Good efforts don’t win in this league,” Russell said. “You’ve got to have the effort. You’ve got to have the execution. You’ve got to win the second and third battles and you’ve got to get the second and third opportunities at their net and we didn’t do that tonight. Going back home we’ve got to turn this thing around.

“Obviously we’re not happy with the way things have been going. It’s a big homestand for us.”

There’s plenty of motivation.

There’s simply one place to find it.

“Look at the standings,” Hartley said. “Look at the standings. No one will feel sorry for us. That’s the nature of the NHL. We talk about character, we talk about pride since Day 1 of training camp. Here’s a situation. Character and pride, it’s nice when things go good. When things go bad, that’s where we’re going to see.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we have plenty of character. We’re going to find a way.”

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