FLAMES READY FOR ORNERY PENS
The Calgary Flames are preparing for angry birds.
The Pittsburgh Penguins let third period leads of 2-0 and 3-2 slip before falling 4-3 in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
Sean Monahan knows Pittsburgh won’t be in the best of moods when the Flames host the Penguins at Scotiabank Saddledome on Hockey Night in Canada.
“They’re going to be hungry,” Monahan said. “They didn’t expect to lose that game and in hockey anything can happen so I think they’re going to be hungry for a win. But so are we.”
The Flames have won just once since Christmas, compiling a 1-6-0 record in that span. They’ve been shut out in five of those contests, too.
And with Calgary’s recent struggles, coach Bob Hartley’s mind is focused solely on his own bench.
“My big belief in coaching is that you focus first on your team and right now, obviously, we know about our scoring and that’s what we’re focusing (on). We talked about Pittsburgh. The players are well aware of what’s ahead of us but at the same time, we have to find our own game back and that’s where my priority is right now.”
FLAMES WELCOME CROSBY CHALLENGE
Monahan has seen a lot of Sidney Crosby on television. He’s also had the opportunity to face him head-on.
Now, the 19-year-old feels he’s better equipped to handle the challenge that is the NHL’s leading scorer.
“I played him in Pittsburgh and it’s pretty cool,” Monahan said. “He’s a good player and it’s always a challenge to play against those types of players and as a hockey player it’s something that you like to do.
“He’s a smart player and he’s strong on his stick in the faceoff circle so I think it’s obviously something that he works at and it’s a challenge every shift.”
Monahan will have the added challenge of facing Evgeni Malkin, too.
“He wasn’t playing the last time we played in Pittsburgh but maybe I’ll get a few shifts against him,” he said. “Playing against these types of players you learn a lot and you learn quickly. Like I said, it’s a challenge and its fun to go up against some of these guys.”
TURNING ON THE RED LIGHT
Including a pair from Monahan, the Flames have manufactured just five goals since the Christmas break.
It’s due, in part, to a lack of breaks, he admitted.
“Scoring goals is hard work so you have to make your own breaks and some goals are luckier and stuff like that but at the end of the day you need to work hard to get the goals,” Monahan said.
They’re owed a couple in the eyes of Hartley.
“Usually they say breaks go to people who work hard,” the coach said. “Well, I think that the hockey gods might owe us a couple on those. I can’t expect luck or breaks to be a difference-maker. You have to keep building, keep going, keep pushing. That’s what we’re doing.”
Hartley’s using “every tool there is in the box” to try to push Calgary’s confidence in the offensive end.
“They know that we need to score goals in order to win games, but they show up, they work hard,” he said. “I think that they react like good pros. Obviously we’re going through tough times right now but the solution is within our group.”
“A reporter yesterday asked me if I have animals. I went and bought a parrot, I bought a cat, I bought a dog, I’m even thinking of buying an alligator. Trust me, there aren’t any more doors on my car. I tried to come in from the good side, the bad side, the trunk. We’re trying all kinds of stuff. That’s where we’re at, but again, spirit is still good. This is the most important thing and I think it shows what kind of players we have in this dressing room. They care and they want to do it better.”
Tonight's game will be broadcast on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The FAN at 8:00 p.m. MT.
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