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Hartley's short practice looks to stoke Flames

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- The margin of error is small.

And coach Bob Hartley didn’t hesitate to re-enforce that fact to his Calgary Flames.

A brief, 25-minute skate was abruptly halted by a pointed Hartley trying to drive home the idea of what the Flames need to do to accomplish what has become a very lofty goal.

“It sends a clear message that we better be fresh, we better be mentally sharp and ready to go tomorrow because (if) we get that win tomorrow, we can hopefully build some momentum and go on the road, and then there’s two huge divisional games that you have to have in our situation,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “It’s a good message. Clear. We’ll start tomorrow with a clean slate and we’ve got to be sharp.”

Ditto, suggested forward David Jones.

“I don’t think we were as crisp as we needed to be so we cut it short,” he said. “We’re all getting ready for tomorrow and we all know how important the game is. For us, basically every game is the most important game of the year. It’s the same for most teams, but especially for us we have a long way to climb.

“Every day you need to come ready to work. I think today we weren’t as crisp as we would’ve liked to be. We’ve got another day to think about tomorrow and get ready.”

First up?

The Toronto Maple Leafs, in Calgary, on Tuesday.

Following up?

Back-to-back road games featuring Pacific Division opponents, starting Thursday against the San Jose Sharks and finishing with a stopover against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

The situation?

Calgary entered Monday, to no surprise, owning the six-spot in the Pacific Division. The Flames sit eight points back of the third-place Anaheim Ducks, who have won six consecutive games. With a win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the Flames pulled to within five points of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes. Calgary is within three of the fifth-place Canucks, too.

Calgary is nine points back of the Colorado Avalanche for the second of two wild card entries in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Wild, Coyotes and Canucks remain between the Flames and Avalanche.

“Looking at our situation right now in the standings this is a crucial week for us, making sure we once again understand our situation,” Hartley said. “We’re coming off a big win in Vancouver. Lets make sure that we understand tomorrow, Toronto, it’s a big game for us and at the same time we have San Jose and Phoenix. We need to be on our toes all week.”

Because, the Flames will tell you, it's must-win range.

“The desperation has to be there right now. We really look at every game now as one game you’ve got to must win,” Giordano said. “It’s almost like a do-or-die. We’re not fooling anyone. We know at some point we have to string a bunch of wins together to get back into the race.

“For me as an individual, it’s a lot easier to get up for games when you know there’s no room for error. You’ve got to be at your best, your focus has to be at its best and go from there.”

Do-or-die territory.

“We need to approach every game like it’s do-or-die, get the two points,” Jones said. “I think we looked at the record. The amount of the points we need to get to the playoffs, what we got last year, we basically have to be the best in the league for the rest of our games.

“That’s how we’re looking at it, but we’re taking it one game at a time.”

NOTES: Hartley confirmed Jonas Hiller, victorious in Vancouver, will earn a second consecutive start … Forward Lance Bouma left practice early because, “he wasn’t feeling good. He came in and wasn’t feeling good and then we removed him from the ice,” said Hartley.

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