CHICAGO, IL -- Snake-bit and slumping, the Calgary Flames are seeking a change in fortunate in the Windy City.
The mood in the room has already shifted.
With a day away from the rink on Saturday, the Flames are refreshed, refocused and ready to halt a four-game losing streak Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We lost our last four games and there’s many, many parts of our game that I like,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “Right now, in the last four, one good defensive play, one more save versus one more goal and we could easily be 4-0. It’s not like we got outplayed or anything like this. I feel that we basically played almost as good as when we were winning. But one goal here and there and here’s the difference.
“Yes, yesterday was a good day. Guys had a little fun, did a little shopping, had some free time. Today they were fresh. We’re good.”
It’s not a simple task they face.
Though the Blackhawks are coming off a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders 24 hours ago, Chicago still has wins in eight of their past 10 games. Further, the Blackhawks have won 11 of their past 13 outings dating back to Nov. 16 against the Dallas Stars and have outscored opponents 48-23 during that span.
They’re seconds in goals against at just 2.00 per game and sixth in scoring, averaging 2.97.
Having a day off has helped prepare for the challenge, Jonas Hiller admitted.
“I think it helped, to recover,” Hiller said. “With the travel and the back-to-back, it was definitely wasn’t easy. I think we need all the energy for the game tonight to have a chance to win.
“It’s always nicer to have a day off if you won the night before but sometimes, looking at everything from a distance helps and I think we played pretty well. One or two mistakes in our own end and a few things that don’t go our way in the other end, games might look different. We’ve definitely go to look at the positive and having that day, coming in here, forgetting about the bad experience from the last game.”
HILLER NETS START
Hiller will be counted on to help Calgary halt the slump.
He has some recent success to draw upon on in the ‘Madhouse on Madison’. Hiller’s last start in Chicago yielded a 49-save performance in Calgary’s 2-1 overtime win against the Blackhawks on Oct. 15.
“It definitely helps,” Hiller said. “It definitely is not doing the opposite or anything. It’s definitely easy to think back and say, ‘I had a good game,’ but at the end, you’ve got to focus on the start because last game doesn’t do a whole lot on the ice there. It’s definitely easier going out there feeling comfortable with the way we ended here instead of being pulled and kind of feel bad about your last experience.
“At the end, you kind of prepare similar for every game and try to play as well as you can. Yeah, for some reason, there seems to be buildings that work better than others but I can’t just rely on that. I’ve definitely got to be ready from the first second.”
Hartley suggested Hiller’s previous outing in Chicago had plenty to do with the Sunday start.
“Either one, we feel that we have a chance to win the game,” Hartley started. “It’s always trying to pick the right one. Looking back at Hills game that he had there early on in the season, that’s basically what cut it for us.”
Overall, Hiller is 9-8-1 with a 2.50 goals against average and .912 save percentage this season.
With Ladislav Smid out of the lineup, the Flames have recalled Corey Potter.
Potter, a native of Lansing, Michigan, has played 19 games for Adirondack this season, recording five assists and 10 penalty minutes. In 123 career NHL games with New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins, Potter has eight goals and 32 points.
“He was their best D,” Hartley said. “Very steady, playing lots of minutes – power play, penalty kill, five-on-five. We always call up the player that we feel deserves it the most and it was unanimous. Corey had the call.”
The Flames face off with the Blackhawks at 6 PM MT. CITY TV (TV) and SN 960 The FAN (radio) will carry the broadcast.
@NHLFlames will live-tweet the game and provide you will all sorts of game day content. Fans can also follow along with the hashtag #CGYvsCHI.