The Calgary Flames are currently the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
After winning just two of ten games in early January, the club has turned things around and are riding a season-high five game winning streak heading into the contest against Montréal. All five victories came at the Scotiabank Saddledome, something that hasn’t been achieved since 1997.
Extending the streak to six games would give them their longest such string of wins since 2005 when they strung eight wins in a row together.
Flames head coach Bob Hartley attributes some of his clubs recent success to an ability to compete in close games.
"Four of those last five games were decided by one goal," Hartley said after the teams morning skate in Montreal. "If there’s one team that knows how to play those one goal games, it’s us. We’ve lost a big share of our games by one goal, now we’ve won the last five by one and I just told the players in the meeting that margin between winning and losing is so small and that in this league you have to be ready.
"One good play you lose by a goal, one bad play you win by a goal and that’s our situation. I think that its great for a young hockey club and that’s the difference right now."
"We’re getting good goaltending and special teams have played well and I think that the leadership of our veterans, which is nothing new from day one combined to the progression of all our young players and I think that’s pushed us another step further."
Flames forward and former Hab, Michael Cammalleri says the atmosphere surrounding the team as of late has been positive and the guys are having fun.
"It’s been fun. It’s been challenging this year, we went through the rebuilding process or whatever you want to call it, we’ve had some change upstairs, so there’s been some ups and downs for our group and wins haven’t always been as common as we like but lately it’s been a lot of fun," Cammalleri said from the visiting locker room in the Bell Centre. "You’ve seen a lot of guys step up and play well and we’re on a little bit of a roll here so we’d love to keep it going."
The Flames have been inconsistent on away from home this season—boasting 2-3-5 record in their past 10 road games and a 9-13-4 record on the season away from the ‘Dome—and will attempt to deliver a third straight defeat to the struggling Canadiens.
CAMMALLERI RETURNS TO MONTRÉAL
It’s been just over two years since Michael Cammalleri suited up at the Bell Center.
The former Hab last played in Montreal on January 10, 2012 in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Cammalleri would be traded to the Flames just two days later during the Canadien’s visit to Boston. The contest was only two periods old and he was told he had been dealt and was asked to take his gear off and return to his hotel room. The unorthodox move by Montréal ’s management marked the beginning of Cammalleri’s second stint with the Calgary Flames.
Cammalleri says he's hoping there isn't a repeat of that night anytime soon.
"I said that to my Dad when we were talking about coming here [to Montreal], that’s all I need is something dramatic here again," Cammalleri quipped after the Flames morning skate. "I just want everything to just go nice and easy and no drama would be nice."
"Just a nice 2-1 win would be happy for me and we can just move on."
This will be the first time Cammalleri has faced off against his former team since the trade which also saw the Canadiens acquire René Bourque, prospect Patrick Holland and a 2012 draft pick. In addition to Cammalleri, the Flames also received current goaltender Karri Ramo and a 5th round pick in 2012—which turned out to be current Quebec Remparts’ blueliner Ryan Culkin.
When asked about Montreal being a great place to play when the team is having success but a terrible place to play when things aren't going well, Cammalleri said he didn't quite agree.
"It’s a great place to play when you’re winning. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with it’s a rotten place to play when you’re losing," Cammalleri said. "You feel the ins and outs of every day. I think it’s a challenging place to play, just because, for most of us, the most pressure we put on us is ourselves and you feel the kind of impact you have on everybody’s happiness around the city when things aren’t going so well so it makes it that much more."
RUSSELL BACK IN THE FOLD
Bob Hartley confirmed aftter the morning skate that Kris Russell will return to the Flames lineup after missing the teams last outing against Minnesota.
The 26-year-old had just returned from a strained MCL on Jan. 18, which kept him out of 13 contests.
Russell was sorely missed as the Flames stumbled without him, going 3-9-0-1. The Caroline, Alberta native has recorded four goals and 19 points in 41 games this season and is second in average ice-time amongst all Flames defenceman.
Several Flames players are riding point streaks heading into tonight’s match versus Montréal.
GIordano’s nine game streak is currently the longest in the NHL
All time vs. Montréal : 36-54-15-1-0
At Montréal : 12-19-4-1-0
Season Series: 1-0
Last game at MTL: Oct 13, 2011 – CGY 4 at MTL 1
Last win at MTL: Oct 13, 2011 – CGY 4 at MTL 1
Last win at CGY: Oct 9, 2013 CGY 3 vs. MTL 2
LAST TEN MTL VS. CGY: 7-2-0-1-0
Calgary has won the last four consecutive games and seven of the last eight over Montréal . Calgary has scored three or more goals in each of the last five games over Montréal.
LAST TEN GAMES IN MONTRÉAL : 3-5-1-1-0
The Flames earned points in their last three visits to Montréal . In their last visit to the Bell Center, Calgary beat Montréal 4-1 in their home opener. The Flames have scored eight times in their last three contests in Montréal.
CAREER HIGH AND FIRSTS AGAINST MONTRÉAL:
Sean Monahan recorded his first multiple point game against Montréal on October 6, 2013 when he registered a goal and an assist.
Matt Stajan had his career high in penalty minutes with 16 versus Montréal on February 7, 2009 as a member of the Toronto MapleLeafs.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the one and only Stanley Cup win by the Calgary Flames.
The Flames captured the coveted trophy at the historic Montréal Forum on May 25, 1989. They were the only visiting team to ever host the cup in the Forum, a building which played host to the Habs for 70 years—from 1926 to 1996.
Tonight's battle with the Habs will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio).
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