NOT FLINCHING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
While the Flames are 2-0-0 on their road swing, the trip has left bodies strewn about in the sick bay. Mike Cammalleri (hip flexor, day-to-day), Miikka Kiprusoff (lower body, injured reserve) and Mikael Backlund (lower body, injured reserve) have all been felled by injury this week, forcing the team to sign netminder Danny Taylor and recall forward Ben Street.
But the Flames refuse to use injuries as an excuse for any on-ice performance they're not happy with. According to Matt Stajan, the team can't change their mindset or how they prepare for games just because some players are unable to suit up. They are in a groove they are comfortable with - and have found success with - and changing that formula may push their game off the path they want it on.
"When everybody buys into a team system, you get a situation where guys can just slot in and fill the void. Hopefully it's only for a short period of time that these guys are out but guys have to be able to slot in where needed.
"Good teams have to find a way to do that. The way the guys are picking up the new system, the way we're playing, guys just have that focus - 'I'm ready to go.'"
Many members of the team saw their squad decimated by injuries last year and can draw upon that experience as they move forward this season.
"Guys have to step up and that's what we saw last year. You'll see that this year throughout the league ... as a team, we have confidence in whoever is here."
Forward Blair Jones concurred with Stajan, adding positives can be found in the situation. When Backlund left the game in Columbus on Thursday, he found himself playing in quite a few different scenarios than he would have if the team had a full lineup.
"It opens up opportunities for guys who maybe wouldn't have had played those kinds of minutes, those kind of situations."
IRVING GETS SECOND START IN VANCOUVER
For the first time in his career, Leland Irving will start a game in a building he has played in previously. On Dec. 23, 2011, the 24 year-old recorded his first NHL win in Vancouver, stopping 29 of the 30 shots on route to the 3-1 Flames victory.
While it is familiar territory, it feels like an entirely new situation to Irving.
"I imagine it's going to be a whole new game. You've got a whole lot of different players on the ice ... I'm looking forward to the challenge. They're obviously a good team."
With four periods of play under his belt this season, the netminder is feeling more and more comfortable shouldering the load in net. His confidence has grown and he's reveling in the experience of being the team's starting goaltender while Miikka Kiprusoff recovers from a lower body injury.
"There's always going to be nerves. I think your nerves are a good thing at times, as long as you're able to control them in the right way.
"I've been able to stay aggressive and really challenge the shooter to beat me. I find when I'm confident, when I'm on my game, I'm able to get on top of my crease and play as big as possible."
Cory Schneider will start in net for the Canucks. He is 3-2-0 this year with a 2.66 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage.
FLAMES FANTASY HOCKEY TIPS
The hottest Flame through the opening eight games of the season is, without question, Alex Tanguay. The forward, who has adapted extremely well to playing up the middle this year, leads the team in scoring with 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) and has points in his last seven outings. Tanguay has also been extremely productive when facing the Canucks in his career. In 61 contests, he's rattled off 20 goals and 56 points. During the Flames last stop in Vancouver (Jan. 23), he scored one of the team's two goals.
How solid has Jiri Hudler been since joining the Flames? The Czech forward has points in four of the five games he has played this year, including a 3-point night on Jan. 31 against the Colorado Avalanche. Hudler is coming off a 2-point game in Columbus after assisting on Roman Cervenka and Mikael Backlund's tallies.
Jarome Iginla has battled the Canucks many a time in his career and has racked up the points against Calgary's divisional rivals. The captain has scored 27 goals and 72 points through 87 tilts.
The gritty Tim Jackman has scored more goals against the Canucks than any other team during his career. In 17 games, the 31 year-old has four tallies.
WHAT THE OPPOSITION IS SAYING
"If you read the comments after Chicago, I think Chicago was really outplayed. Then they went into Detroit and beat them handily. They're playing really well and they're back to being a great team again ... I think they're deeper. They have more depth with Jiri Hudler coming there and that new guy Cervenka. So I think they're deeper up front, they have more offence."
- Henrik Sedin
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mark Giordano needs 1 assist for 100.
Lee Stempniak needs 2 assists for 150.
Curtis Glencross needs 2 goals for 100, 2 assists for 100 and 4 points for 200.
Jarome Iginla needs 4 games for 1200.
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