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The Flames are back from the All-Star break and are eager to get the second half of the season underway


CALGARY - Relaxed. 


And refocused.

The Calgary Flames are feeling all three coming out of the NHL All-Star Break, which gave each member (sans representative Johnny Gaudreau) a full three days of some much-needed down time away from the rink.

"You get your focus back, you get your legs back, and it's time to regroup," veteran centre Matt Stajan said. "We got a big win before the break, but any time you have time off you want to reset. The message was we've got a 10-day stretch here where we have some big games and we have another break.

"Lets throw it all in here to the next 10 days and make sure we're ready to go." 

Coach Glen Gulutzan feels his group is ready to do just that.

Especially with how things have gone of late.

Having lost four in a row prior to some overtime heroics from Gaudreau at the Ottawa Senators in Thursday's pre-break finale, Gulutzan feels the time away should do wonders for his group.

"We've chugged along here where back-to-backs haven't affected us a ton, we've worked hard and played some of our best games like that," Gulutzan started. "I think (the break) was mental a little bit to get refocused and set.

"That's the biggest thing. For me more importantly with the break was the win before the break. The whole league shut down. 

"It's good to go off on a good note and come back a little more focused."

And a bit more relaxed, suggested forward Troy Brouwer.

"When you're playing pretty much every other day with a lot of travel … it's something you've got to get used to if you're playing in the league … but it's more condensed and feels tighter," Brouwer said. "I know everybody in here came back with smiles on their faces and everyone's feeling good.

"A little break for the mind is the most important."

Because even with the win in Ottawa, Calgary entered the break with just two wins in their previous eight outings (2-5-1). 

Enter the reset.

"We were on a tough roll there on the road," captain Mark Giordano said. "The last one was a good one getting the win. You always want to keep playing when you win. You want to play soon after.

"But I think it was important for us to regroup. Sometimes when you're in those tough stretches you really think it's crashing down and things are worse than it is. I look at it like we're still in a playoff spot."

The Flames broke Friday holding the second wild card entry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

But Calgary could be on the onside looking in by the time they return to host the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

The Flames sit one point up on each of the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks for that second wild card spot, and give up games at hand to both. The Kings return to action Tuesday against the Arizona Coyotes.

"As a player you know exactly where you sit in the standings all year," Stajan said. "Guys who say they don't might be lying to you a little bit. You know. It's posted everywhere. Maybe you don't know the ins and outs and details of it, but you know where you sit. 

"We're right in the thick of things for a wild card spot. We know we have to win a lot of hockey games here down the stretch to make sure we can hold the spot we have right now. Teams have some games in hand on us.

"We've got to work it out."

It'll even itself out when Calgary breaks again in February.

The Flames are scheduled to take their mandated break from Feb. 8-11.

That leaves four games for Gulutzan's group to go to work.

It's the final push after that. 

"It's a week of work," he said.

"It's a week of dedication. 

"It's a week of focus.

"Then we get another five days that these guys have earned and bargained for that break. We'll go into that and they'll get refreshed. It comes at a good time.

"Then there's six weeks of 'lets get at it.'

"When the sun gets a little warmer and a little brighter outside, it's a little more fun to play when you can see some light at the end of the tunnel."

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