CALGARY – The Calgary Flames will have a different look Friday night.
Hoping to halt the Flames’ three-game losing streak, coach Brent Sutter shuffled his lines at Thursday’s practice in preparation for Friday’s showdown with the Vancouver Canucks at the Pengrowth Saddledome (Sportsnet West, 9 p.m. ET).
While Jarome Iginla moved onto a line with Craig Conroy and Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen played centre between wingers Eric Nystrom and Fredrik Sjostrom.
“Things change,” Conroy said. “It might be a game, it might be a period, it might be a shift. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You just want to get some rhythm and some flow.”
While Conroy always enjoys getting the chance to play on a line with Iginla, the veteran forward realizes that the trio will have to perform in order to remain together.
“I don’t think it’s anything about who gets to play with Iggy, it’s how this team wins and that’s the bottom line,” Conroy said. “That’s all Brent wants and that’s all we want is to figure out what’s the best chemistry to move forward.”
If Thursday’s practice is any indication, Daymond Langkow will play centre between Rene Bourque and Nigel Dawes against the Canucks (2-3-1), while Dustin Boyd, Brandon Prust and Brian McGrattan will make up the fourth line.
By switching things up, Sutter is attempting to find a way to get the most out of all of his players.
“We haven’t had obviously players play at the level we want them to play at,” Sutter said. “We’ve got to have a junk-yard dog mentality. Our guys’ games have dropped off because they haven’t got their noses dirty.”
When asked if the Flames (4-2-1) are a hard group to coach, Sutter paused and thought about his answer carefully.
“It’s a group that has a lot of learning to do,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done and I’m aware of it. The good thing is that the players are aware of it too.”
Veteran Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr, who has two assists to go with a minus-seven rating through seven games, listed off several reasons as to why the Flames have slumped since starting the season 4-0.
“It’s not something I can tell you there’s just one thing we need to fix,” Regehr said. “It’s a combination of us not playing in the other team’s zone with our forecheck being a little bit ineffective the last couple games.
“We need to be better in the neutral zone,” Regehr continued. “We’re having too many turnovers there. When you spend too much time in your own zone, you give up opportunities. There’s an area where we can be better at too.”
Regehr remains confident the Flames can turn things around.
“We haven’t played as well as we should the last number of games and we need to get things back on track,” he said.
Defenceman Mark Giordano said the Flames realized that they “had a lot of room for improvement” even after they reeled off four wins to start the season.
“We just have to simplify our game and play our system right,” Giordano said. “Once you start playing it right, you’re going to get good results.”
Having beaten the Canucks 5-3 on opening night at the Saddledome, the Flames know that the Vancouver players will have revenge on their minds on Friday night.