Flames’ rebound skill even more important in shortened season
Calgary must forget and move on for crucial game against Anaheim Monday night
This, of course, is what the National Hockey League players wanted all along — to be back at work.
Well, they’re getting what they asked for.
Games — and a pile of them in a hurry.
Today, after falling 4-1 in their NHL season-opener Sunday to the San Jose Sharks, the Calgary Flames are back at work.
The Anaheim Ducks — always big, frequently ornery — are in town. Already.
“A lot of the guys were waiting for the hockey season,” said Sven Baertschi. “Now you want to play. Now you want to play almost every single day.
“Guys are excited — a new challenge against Anaheim.”
The Flames contest their opening three games in a burst — Sharks on Sunday, Ducks tonight, Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
It leaves no time to sulk.
“That’s going to be the challenge all year, our ability to reload,” said Calgary coach Bob Hartley. “To park this game, go home and think about what went right. Think of what you could have done better. But (this) morning, let’s show up at the rink with a positive attitude, because it’s another game. That’s going to be the story of the season. You win, you can’t go too high. You lose, you can’t go too low. You need to prepare for your next opponent.”
And all of that without the luxury of an exhibition slate, without a feeling-out process, without a ramping-up period.
“There’s no pre-season, so it’s not, ‘Oh well, let’s take our time and bring our game (pace) up,’ ” said captain Jarome Iginla. “It needs to be up now. We did that in the first period (Sunday) and we did it in the third. The third was a fine period. The second, we weren’t as strong mentally as we should have been.
“(The Ducks game) is a new day. We know it’s a shortened season . . . it’s going to be a string of games very quickly, so nobody’s feeling sorry for ourselves. We know that (today) is a very important game. It’s going to be about playing with that energy, that aggressiveness.”
Teemu Selanne and the Ducks, of course, are no pushovers.
They slapped around the home-ice Vancouver Canucks to the tune of 7-3 on opening night.
“Yeah, I saw that,” said Mikael Backlund. “It’s all mental. We have to prepare ourselves for a big, tough game, and just come out flying like we did (Sunday) and just stick to it all night.”
After the Ducks visit, the Flames have eight more double dips on the slate this winter.
No matter, says newcomer Dennis Wideman.
“Oh, it’s just like any other year,” said Wideman. “Any other year, we have back-to-backs. (Sunday) when we leave the rink, this game’s over and we have to be ready to play Anaheim.”
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