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Ryan and teammates say Flames have a plan to turn things around in Game 4

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

DENVER - Anyone who's been around this team, in any capacity, knows they're not easily rattled. 

Frustration just isn't a part of the team's cultural framework.

But Derek Ryan and the Flames also know better than to glean anything from what's written 'on paper,' and that the work starts now to correct course before the swells take hold.

"I think, top to bottom, our roster is better than theirs," Ryan said Tuesday in the wake of a disappointing Game 3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. 

"But we have to play like it. 

"And we have to play a patient game to reap the benefits of that.

"We're three games into the series now and I don't we've played to our potential yet."

Head coach Bill Peters called Saturday's defeat a "loss." 


A "lesson." 

No team, he reminds, has ever gone a perfect sixteen-and-oh en route to a Cup championship. 


Video: "We have to get better and we will be"


But your ability to reset from one game to the next, not dwelling on the past - be that a convincing Game 1 win, thanks to the stellar goaltending of one Mike Smith, or a lopsided setback to fall to a 2-1 series deficit, shouldn't change the approach for a pivotal Game 4. 

Win tomorrow and it's back even, with home-ice advantage again in your back pocket. 

"I don't feel like there are any wounds right now," Ryan said. "At all.

"Look, we know we weren't at our best last night. That was obvious. We also know we haven't really been at our best all series. But you can just look at it and say because we won the division, did this, this and this in the regular season, that we'd stomp all over these guys. 

"Doesn't work that way.

"We need to find a game that can be successful. Not only tonight and in this series against Colorado, but throughout an entire playoff series, no matter who we're playing. 

"This group knows that we can have a deep run this year and for many years to come. 

"So there's no panic. We're three games into a seven-game series. 

"Lots of racetrack left."

'Patience' was the word of the day as the Flames gathered for a noon meeting at the team hotel in downtown Denver.

As good as the Avs' top centre Nathan MacKinnon was in Monday's forgettable, Game 3 loss, the Flames put the blame squarely on themselves by making it easy and allowing Colorado's top sniper to "toy around" and "have fun."


Video: 'We took too many chances ... we'll clean that up"


But it wasn't for a lack of effort, says captain Mark Giordano.

Quite the opposite, in fact. 

"We gave up a ton of chances and a ton of shots, but it was because we were trying too hard," he said. "We were trying to erase that three-goal lead right away and were taking too many risks, leading to all those odd-man rushes.

"Right now, they're feeling good about themselves and they're playing with a lot of confidence. There is no reason for us to be playing with any sort of fear. Let's go out and have fun and play with confidence."

The Flames, admittedly, got away from their game early in the opening frame, after MacKinnon put the homeside up 2-0 with a pair of powerplay strikes. 

The rest of the night was spent chasing and forcing plays through the middle of the ice at the offensive blue-line, where the Avalanche feasted and created all kind of chaos off the rush. 

Ryan, though, says the Flames have a plan to counteract that in Game 4.

"We can be aggressive, but patient at the same time," he said. "To this point, all the rush chances they're getting, it's because we're giving it to them. Simple. 

"Turnovers at the blueline, losing our guy in the neutral zone - it's all proven costly. 

"But we know how to defend these guys. We want to have our third forward staying a bit higher, above them to not allow them any free ice, and also have the rest of us re-loading faster on the back-check.  

"Just wait for the game to come to us. Their top guys are playing a lot and we can frustrate them by sitting back a little bit.

"They had too much fun last night. That's easy hockey for them. 

"We need to get back to making it hard."

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