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Flames looking to tighten things up in their game

by Andrew Halipchuk / Calgary Flames

This is an evaluation period for everyone. We have a lot of pride and obviously were not in the playoffs right now but at the same time you don’t like losing game’s either, so we’re going to play hard right till the end.Curtis Glencross

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames have fallen into a bit of a rut in their final road trip of the 2013-14 NHL season.

The five-game road trip for the Flames started with a pair of games in Ontario, where Calgary dropped each of their contests with the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both Ontario-based teams struggled in the month of March, and both were able to take a step in the right direction with their win over the Flames.

“It was a game that could have gone either way tonight; I don’t think we got outplayed” Flames coach Bob Hartley said after Calgary’s 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. “We got our chances late [in the game] and we couldn’t capitalize on them.

“Tonight’s game [against the Leafs], and the Ottawa game are two totally different situations.”

In their game with the Senators, Calgary had a 3-2 throughout the second before giving up a tying goal off of a turnover in the neutral zone and an odd-man rush, with just less than five minutes left in the period. Then in the third Ottawa scored three goals in the period and held the Flames to just six shots in the frame.

“You look at the last two or three goals and it’s just turnovers and mental mistakes,” Hartley said after Calgary’s 6-3 loss to the Senators, Sunday afternoon. “It’s something that we’re addressing.”

The Flames have had a few bad habit goals creep into their first two outings on their five-game road trip, having six of their nine goals against come from turnovers in the neutral zone or in their own zone.

Flames defenceman TJ Brodie had one of his toughest games in his NHL career Tuesday night, being a part of the play on all three Toronto goals. The toughest moment may have been when Maple Leafs forward, Dave Bolland redirected the puck from behind the goal line towards Brodie and into the net.

Coach Hartley had nothing but praise for Brodie after Tuesday’s loss, despite what happened in the game.

“I don’t know where we [the team] would be without TJ Brodie, he’s been so good for us since the start of the year,” Hartley said. “I can’t even call it a bad night [against the Leafs], I would call this a night full of bad luck for TJ.”

In his third full season with the Flames, Brodie is having a breakout year, sitting second in points by a Flames defenceman with 30 and third on the team in assists, with 26. The 23-year-old has been playing on Calgary’s top pairing with Mark Giordano for most of the season and averages 23:56 minutes of ice-time per game.

“It’s just a bad break, it’s natural reaction to try and react to the puck [like that],” said Giordano in response to Brodie’s own-goal.

With their loss Tuesday night, the Flames set a new franchise record for one-goal games with 46 this season, 22 wins separated by a goal and 24 losses where the team fell by one goal.

“We’ve been in every game, we know that,” said Giordano. “We work hard and we battle right to the end.

“It’s disappointing when you lose ones like tonight [against the Leafs].”

Calgary’s leadership group understands that they need to keep their young team focused and competitive for the remainder of the season, despite their being only five games left in the schedule.

“This is an evaluation period for everyone,” Flames forward Curtis Glencross said. “We have a lot of pride and obviously were not in the playoffs right now but at the same time you don’t like losing game’s either, so we’re going to play hard right till the end.”

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