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Flames pushing to turn things around

With the tight Western Conference playoff race in mind, the Flames know they must halt their losing skid and gain some ground

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

MONTREAL - Frustrating would be the best word to describe the Calgary Flames' recent run.

The team has dropped five of their last six games and have lost three straight. In a tight Western Conference playoff race, losing ground in these mid-season games could be disastrous come April and the Flames are cognizant of that.

But the message Glen Gulutzan is pushing with his club isn't one of panic or despair.

"We will turn the corner, hopefully sooner than later. If you look at the looks we had, we had some pretty good looks. We just didn't score at timely times. We had chances to put pucks in the net. It didn't happen for us.

"That's not going to continue. That will change at some point. Hopefully it's sooner than later and the guys stop squeezing and we can get some pucks in the net and get ourselves rolling.

"Confidence is important. We're lacking a little bit of it. But with a few bounces and keep doing the right things, that can come back too and get guys feeling good. I truly believe we'll get going here."

Veteran Troy Brouwer has been through ruts with teams throughout the course of his career. He knows that these times will pass if the group maintains their focus and a self-defeating attitude doesn't creep into the locker room.

"We're trying to focus on the positives. We're trying to focus on what we did do well last night. You try and learn, try and evolve as a team and keep on pushing forward.

"We're going through a little bit of a tough stretch right now. Some of the games, I don't feel that we've played bad in. The results haven't even been close to what we would like but we are still doing some good things. We have to focus on that we are a good team going forward here. We'll get out of this. We just need to find a way to get out of it as quick as possible."

As one of the team's leadership group, Brouwer has tasked with being a mentor in a youth-laden locker room that doesn't have experience going through these types of situations in the NHL. Working with the group's younger players, he has appreciated the attitude he has seen throughout this stretch.

"We're a younger team and we're still learning. We're finding our way and figuring out how to win. So when we've had success, everyone is excited and everyone is happy. That's always a good thing but when we're losing, like Gully told us today, that's when you find out what type of character our room has.

"I don't think there's a game that we've given up in. We may get a little flustered in some games and as a result, we let in another goal or two. But I think we're doing the right things. We're battling hard. We have the right mindset going into games. Now we've just got to execute what we want to do to what we're actually doing." 

One concerning factor in recent games is allowing the first goal. The opposition has opened the scoring in the past eight games, creating a hole for the Flames to climb out on a nightly basis.

"It's tough when you're always coming from behind," Brouwer acknowledged. "It's eight games that we've been scored on first and that's always a difficult task, coming from behind. You're consistently trying to work back in games.

"We've got to focus a little more on our start. Maybe get a better feeling in our dressing room at the very beginning of the game, so that when we are ready to come out for the game, we can have that good start - we can play with the lead."

With the likes of the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, and Los Angeles Kings all in action tonight, this evening's game in Montreal will have an impact in the Western Conference playoff picture and the Flames hold their fate in their own hands.

"The situation we've put ourselves in ... nobody's put us here. We've done it to ourselves," Gulutzan emphasized. "We should have some real jump in the beginning tonight. Obviously we're playing in a place that's probably special for a few guys. We should carry over some of that energy that we had (last night in the third period), there's no question that should be happening tonight."

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