It’s a scenario familiar to the Calgary Flames.
Welcoming an opponent on the tail end of a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights, the Colorado Avalanche sunk the Flames two late goals and left Calgary with two points Thursday.
Welcoming the Chicago Blackhawks into Scotiabank Saddledome under the same premise, Mike Cammalleri and the Flames are looking for a much different result Saturday.
“I think that it’s important that in a similar situation like that where we have a team coming into our building on a back-to-back and we come in with a certain energy and try to keep it much more consistent this time around,” Cammalleri said. “I think that last night was one of those that we’re disappointed with the result and some of the things that got us there.”
Chicago comes into Calgary as one of the league’s hottest teams and current Central Division leader. But the Flames are less concerned about who is coming through the door and more about their own play in righting the course during the condensed season, said Curtis Glencross.
“We can’t worry about the other team,” he said. “We have to worry about ourselves. We hurt ourselves last game. We lost the game because of the mistakes we made. If we tighten up our mistakes, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Matt Stajan couldn’t disagree with his teammate’s assessment.
“You’ve got to worry about yourselves,” he admitted. “You can’t look at other teams. Everybody’s going to have times where it’s a little bit more of a grind in the shortened season. We’ll have our share. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready. You can only control what you can control and that’s your team’s play. That’s what our focus needs to be.”
Stajan’s focus will also be on starting strong against the Blackhawks Saturday. With an opportunity to catch a tired Chicago club making an overnight trip from Vancouver, the Flames have another opportunity to set the tone early against a vulnerable opponent.
“We should look at each 20 minutes as the next most important 20 minutes all year,” Stajan said. “You can’t have any blips. You can’t have slow starts. You can’t have a bad second period. We’ve seen it already in the short amount of games we’ve played. A couple lulls and bad periods have cost us games. We’ve got to make sure we’ve learned from this and we apply ourselves for a full 60.”
The lesson learned? There is no vulnerable opponent in today’s game.
“There’s no easy game,” Stajan said. “Even when a team plays back-to-back, they’re still coming out and giving it their all. I think today’s game, everybody’s in great shape. We’ve got to control what we can control and that’s our effort right from the start and pounce on them quickly and keep that throughout the whole game.”
Regardless of opponent, according to coach Bob Hartley.
“We have respect for the 29 other teams in the league and yes there are some that are better than others, but on our side we need points,” he said. “It’s not who we beat, its how many wins we’re going to get because the how many wins get us to the playoffs.
“I think we have to collect points. That’s where my focus is whether you beat a great team and you lose against an average team, it won’t make us any good at the end of the year. We have to be more consistent than what we’ve shown and I think that the players’ attitude is there, the commitment is there, it’s just to improve our execution.”
Starting with the Blackhawks on Saturday night.
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