Flames This Week 12.10.09
Scouting the Flames competition for the upcoming week
The Calgary Flames are looking to get back to their winning ways after suffering their first loss of the season on Friday. They'll kick the week off with a quick two-game road swing in as many days before finishing off the week at home against the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary vs. Chicago, Monday, Oct. 12, 6:00 p.m. at the United Center, Flames PPV & The FAN 960
The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a hard fought 4-3 SO win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night and the Flames can expect that momentum to be carried over on Monday night. The marathon shootout lasted nine rounds before Andrew Ladd potted the winner.
"It was an exciting game for the fans," Ladd told the Chicago Tribune. "We as a group would like to have a better effort, but we'll take the two points and try to get better from here.
Goaltending has been a question mark in the Windy City since Nikolai Khabibulan left for Edmonton. Cristobal Huet hasn't fully earned the trust of Blackhawks fans but his stats so far aren't disappointing the Chicago coaching staff. In three games the French goaltender has a 2.87 GAA and a .864 save percentage. His performance, particularly in Saturday's shootout, has given his teammates a bit of extra confidence.
"You need your goalie to make saves in the shootout, and he came up big for us," said Ladd.
That confidence will also be bolstered by the fact that it was the Blackhawks who ousted the Flames during last season's playoffs. This factor may be a double-edged sword however as the Flames feel they have something to prove when they faceoff in Chicago.
"There was definitely some chippy moments in (last year’s) playoff series with Chicago without a doubt, and some guys don’t forget that. We got some new guys in here, and we’re looking forward to showing them our new team, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to us coming to town," Eric Nystrom said on Sunday morning.
Patrick Sharp has been a sniper for the Blackhawks. The 27 year-old leads the club in goals and points with three and six respectively. He's had points in all four of Chicago's game and is being relied upon heavily for offense as some of the Hawks forwards are having a hard time lighting the lamp.
Captain Jonathan Toews is one of those players struggling to produce. He's only picked up one assist in his four games. Toews has always been a hard working, competitive player so there's no doubt he's itching to get his offensive numbers up. He scored 34 goals and 69 points last campaign. He scored a single goal and two helpers in the Blackhawks four games against Calgary last season.
Chicago has a 2-1-1 record coming into Monday's tilt. They swept last year's season series and outscored Calgary 19-7 in the four games.
Calgary vs. Columbus, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 5:00 p.m. at the Nationwide Arena, Rogers Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
After earning their first taste of playoff action in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets have come into the 2009-10 season with a bang. They're sporting a 3-1-0 record and are showing they're no longer one of the league's basement dwellers.
Former Columbus head coach Dave King recently told the Columbus Dispatch that he was impressed with the strides the club has made over the past few seasons.
"That's really a heck of a hockey club now, a heck of a franchise. You can see the Ken Hitchcock stamp on a lot of those young players."
The Blue Jackets are coming off of a 2-0 road victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Backup netminder Mathieu Garon was stellar in the win but is not expected to be in net against the Flames. Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger scored for Columbus on Saturday.
Nash has been having a great season. The Blue Jackets captain is leading the team in scoring with two goals and six points. He's currently riding a three-game points streak. In last year's season series, Nash scored a goal and four assists against the Flames.
A big part of their success is goaltending. Youngster Steve Mason has been sensational for the Blue Jackets, winning the Calder Trophy last season and recently earning an invite to Team Canada's Olympic tryouts in Calgary. He had a bad outing in San Jose, where the Sharks handed the Blue Jackets their only loss of the season thus far, but has been known to rebound quickly. If he's in net on Tuesday, he'll be looking to prove that his performance against the Sharks was
The Flames went 2-2-0 against the Blue Jackets last year. The last time the two met in Columbus was Mar. 26 when the Blue Jackets blitzed the Flames by a score of 5-0.
Calgary vs. Vancouver, Friday, Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Rogers Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
After a rough start that saw lose three consecutive games, the Vancouver Canucks are starting to look like the team they were in preseason. They earned their first win of the season last Wednesday with a 7-1 thumping of the struggling Montreal Canadiens and a 4-3 SO win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
"It wasn't pretty, but we got the two points and that's the most important (part)," Alex Burrows told TSN of the win.
Burrows has had a productive season. He's tied for top spot in goals with three and is coming off a career-best 28 goal season. The antagonistic winger has thrived on the top line with the Sedin twins and is looking to show the coaching staff his output last year will be a regular occurrence. He scored his first goal of the season against the Flames during Calgary's 5-3 victory on Oct. 1.
Henrik Sedin is leading the Canucks in scoring with three goals and eight points. He has a single assist against the Flames this season.
Roberto Luongo seems to be getting back to his usual self after letting in an uncharacteristic 13 goals in his first three games. Coming into the week, Luongo holds a 3.33 GAA and .879 save percentage. In his first matchup with the Flames he allowed five goals.
The Canucks were dealt a blow in their win over Montreal that could impact their offensive output greatly. Daniel Sedin suffered a broken foot in the victory and is expected to be out four to six weeks. Of the two Sedin brothers, Daniel is known as the finisher. He has averaged over 30 goals for the past three seasons and has 179 career tallies.
"It's unfortunate, but I've been lucky so far, I played a lot of games over nine years so it was bound to happen," Sedin told TSN. "I've been told four to six weeks so I'm shooting for three."
The Canucks have recalled Guillaume Desbiens in Sedin's absence. Steve Bernier is expected to move to the top line with Henrik and Burrows.