ST. LOUIS, MO — The lessons was there. The Calgary Flames are looking to learn from them.
The St. Louis Blues, who clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win over Calgary on Thursday, were on full display.
It didn’t go unnoticed by the Flames in the 4-1 loss.
“They played hard,” said Flames forward Sean Monahan, who scored Calgary’s lone goal. “They hold onto the puck and cycle it and keep control of it. I think we can learn from that. We’ve got to add that to our game, more cycling and holding onto the puck and making plays instead of just throwing it away. It’s a big learning experience for us and I think we’re going to be better now.”
The setback, Calgary’s sixth straight in St. Louis and ninth in the past 11 overall, exhibited qualities that, as defenceman Kris Russell admitted, are trademarks the Flames are looking to make staples in their game.
“They come hard and they play a 60 minute game,” he said. “They’ve got a big team, are hard on the puck and they don’t quit. It’s kind of the makeup that we have. When we play them, I don’t know what it is but we kind of sit back and see what they’re going to do and let them dictate. We can’t play teams like that, especially this one. They’re too good.”
With the win, St. Louis punched a ticket into the playoffs for a third consecutive season and move within two points of the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division.
Calgary remains third in the Pacific with four games remaining.
The Flames will park the loss and focus on Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers to close out a five-game road trip.
“Any game, good or bad, that’s our situation,” coach Bob Hartley said. “Right now we’re down to four games. We don’t have any time to feel sorry for us. We’re enjoying being in this situation. Yes, there’s pressure, there’s challenges but that’s why we’re pros. I already went in the room and I told them ‘park it, forget about it’. Our mindset should already be on Edmonton.”
For a moment, though, Calgary can take a few positives in the loss to the Blues in the form of a pair of milestones.
With two blocks in St. Louis, Russell leapfrogged Anton Volchenkov’s 273 blocked shots effort in 2006-07 to set a new National Hockey League record and Monahan’s goal was his 30th of the season.
It made him the youngest Flames player to score 30 goals in a season, eclipsing the previous mark set by Kevin LaVallee in 1981-82.
“Putting the puck in the net in this league is tough so it’s pretty cool to get 30 but it doesn’t mean much after a game like that,” Monahan said.
“Its just goals. Obviously it’s my linemates putting the puck on my stick. It’s something I’ll think about later on in the season how lucky and fortunate I was to play with guys like that.
“That’s the thing that will probably stick out most.”