Calgary coach Bob Hartley believes he can better prepare his club for a run at the postseason if he keeps it focused on achieving short-term goals.
Winning more at home probably should be on the list.
The Flames look to avoid a fifth defeat in six home games by winning a sixth straight meeting with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Hartley breaks down the season in seven-game segments, and Calgary (26-20-3) has bought into the notion that it encourages an playoff mentality as it heads into segment No. 8.
It went 5-2-0 in the previous stretch after falling 1-0 to Minnesota on Thursday and holds the final Western Conference wild-card spot by one point ahead of Los Angeles.
"We always look at seven games," Hartley told the team’s official website. "Does it have an effect on the players? I don’t really know. I think so. It seems to be working well. It keeps the guys fresh."
Calgary will be playing the third in a seven-game stretch at home, where it has won just four of the last 11 after an 8-3-2 start.
Center Paul Byron will try to help the Flames break out of that slump while ending his own. Byron hasn’t scored in 28 games since netting a goal Nov. 20 against Chicago.
"The key is just trying to take the positive out of it and try not to mentally take myself down," Byron said. "If you think you’re not going to score you’re not. I think it’s just a matter of time before one of them finally goes in."
He isn’t putting his own issues ahead of the club, though.
"Your goal is to win four and you win the (segment)," Byron said. "For us, we’ve had the playoff mentality since Day 1. It’s a dogfight right now and we’re in playoff mode. We just have to go out there and win as many seven-game series as we can."
Fellow center Joe Colborne has keyed Calgary’s success against Oilers (13-27-9) this season. He had three assists in a 5-2 win Oct. 9, scored in a 4-1 win Dec. 27 and netted two goals in a 4-3 overtime victory Dec. 31.
Edmonton coach Todd Nelson believes the Flames will be seeing a rejuvenated opponent this time around. The Oilers have won three of four after beating Buffalo 3-2 on Thursday behind a goal and two assists from Anton Lander.
"Every day we’re trying to make ourselves better and I think we’re improving in certain aspects," Nelson told the team’s official website. "We’re ready to try to keep things going. We’re on a bit of a run here, collected a few points over the last four or five games. It’s a good test for our hockey team."
There may be some tension between these clubs stemming from the most recent meeting. Edmonton defenseman Keith Aulie received a two-game suspension for hitting Matt Stajan in the head in the final minute of the first period.
Aulie will suit up for the first time since that contest.
"He plays an aggressive style," Nelson said. "That’s what got him here to the (NHL), and that’s what’s going to keep him here."
Winger Taylor Hall, who has missed the last two games with a bone bruise in his left leg, didn’t practice Friday but is expected to travel to Calgary and could play.
Ben Scrivens ended a three-start skid by making 18 saves against the Sabres and could be in net for the Oilers. The Flames may counter with Jonas Hiller, who is 10-2-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last 13 against Edmonton.