SPEEDY HABS A GOOD TEST FOR FLAMES
The Calgary Flames have come out of the gates flying this year, surprising teams with their speed and tenacity on the puck. That kind of up-tempo game mirrors that of tonight's opponent, the Montreal Canadiens.
"Our first three games have been really up-tempo. That's the way we want to play," head coach Bob Hartley said. "We're facing a team that can really skate well. Some great skaters especially on the blueline. You look at the Subban's, the Markov's. They can really move the puck well.
"We will have to be at our best. We need the perfect game tonight; from our goaltending, from our d-men, from our forwards, from special teams."
Joey MacDonald, who is making his third straight start tonight, is looking forward to facing the Habs tonight and views the game as a good measuring stick for his team.
"It's always exciting to play a team like that. They've got a great team. They're off to a great start. It's going to be a good test for us," MacDonald said. "The last couple of games, we played really well. We've just got to finish putting 60 minutes together and staying with our game."
STREET DRAWS PRAISE FROM TEAMMATES, COACH
Coming into the 2013-14 season, centre Ben Street had a grand total of six NHL games on his resume. He received his first NHL call-up eight months ago, getting a two-game cup of coffee with the Flames, and was one of the players recalled late in the 2012-13 season when Calgary was felled by injuries.
So, to have Street penciled in as the Flames number one centre heading into the fourth game of the 2013-14 campaign speaks volumes to how much of an impression he made on the organization in less than a year.
"In my wildest dreams you kind of imagine it," he chuckled. "I think I said before that if you told me in the third game of the year I was in that position, I would have taken it but I wouldn't have believed you. I'll take it. I'll just keep trying to get better and make sure I don't relinquish that spot."
Hartley loves what he has seen from Street and trusts the pivot in all situations. He has faced off against opponents top lines, played on the penalty kill and has been placed on the power play.
"When we called him up [last year], we certainly saw lots of poise and lots of good hockey on both sides of the puck. We want guys to be creative, we want guys to generate some offence for us but at the same time, Benny is very sharp out there. He knows the game.
"He's been very consistent. You guys saw our t-shirts - 'Earned, not given' - nothing was given to him. He earned it."
His teammates also appreciate his work ethic and contributions.
"He had a good training camp. He worked hard every time he was on the ice, every exhibition game he had," defenceman Shane O'Brien said. "It just goes to show that if you work hard, obviously the coaching staff here is going to play with who they feel gives us the best chance to win and as a player that's all you can ask for."
VS. THE HABS
All-time record: 35-54-14
Home record: 21-26-7
Last 10 games in Calgary: 8-1-1
Dennis Wideman leads the Flames in career scoring against the Canadiens with 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 32 games. David Jones and Curtis Glencross sit in second with 4 points each; Jones has tallied 2 goals and 2 helpers in 3 games versus Montreal while Glencross has 1 goal and 3 assists in 7 games.
The Flames have won six straight games against the Habs in Calgary, including a 4-0 win at the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium on February 20, 2011.
Calgary has won the last three consecutive games and six of the last seven over Montreal. The Flames have scored four or more goals in their last four games versus the Habs.
"It all starts with my legs and getting on pucks, getting on the forecheck. Being the first to the puck or to make a hit in my zone, making sure I can get side-to-side and help out the [defence] down low." - Ben Street on what he attributes to his success this year.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Jiri Hudler needs 1 goal for 100.
Mike Cammalleri needs 3 assists for 250.
Kris Russell needs 5 points for 100.
Tim Jackman needs 10 games for 400.
The puck drops at 6:00 PM MST with TSN carrying the television broadcast and Sportsnet 960 The FAN carrying the radio broadcast.
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