Scouting the Flames: 19.10.09
A look at the Flames competition this week
The Calgary Flames head into the week with a bit of extra confidence. After three straight losses, the Flames defeated their division rivals, the Vancouver Canucks, in a decisive 5-3 win.
"We played smart," Miikka Kiprusoff said.
"And our fourth line was awesome. That’s what you need to win this game. Everybody has to be ready."
The Flames have been looking for a complete, 60 minute game and the win over the Canucks was the best game the Flames have played this season because they didn't stop competing or pressing all night. This week will be another step in finding that complete effort.
Another positive for Calgary is the possible return of David Moss. The forward has been out for week with an upper-body injury. He skated by himself on Sunday and is listed as day-to-day.
"He felt OK, so we’ll just take it day to day. He’s at the stage now where he’s getting better every day, so that’s encouraging," head coach Brent Sutter said.
The Flames have a light week with only two games on the docket.
Calgary vs. Columbus, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Rogers Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The Flames will be looking to enact some revenge against the Blue Jackets in the second game of the season series. Columbus took the first matchup of the year last Tuesday by a score of 2-1. It was a familiar tale in the loss against Columbu - Calgary had a very strong opening period but fell short in the following two frames.
"We had a good first period then we backed off in the second period," said Sutter.
Jarome Iginla feels the team fell short on their ability to keep their foot on the pedal and continuing to push when they've gained the lead.
"What we are really working on is to hold the fort and get a push back," Iginla said. "I thought we almost did that in the second period and then we ran into penalty trouble."
The Blue Jackets have been off to a red-hot start this season with a 5-1-0 record. They've outscored opponents 18-12 and are sitting second in the Central Division with two games in hand over the first place Chicago Blackhawks.
"It's extremely huge the way these guys are stepping up right now," goaltender Steve Mason told the Columbus Dispatch. "These guys are putting a big effort up and making my job easier."
A huge part of their success is due to excellent goaltending. Mason has been a force for the Blue Jackets. The 21 year-old has a 2.35 GAA and a .925 save percentage. With only one loss on his record, he's been one of the hottest goalies in the league to start this season.
Their ability to play a man short has been superb - they're leading the league in penalty killing with a 95.83% efficiency. Their power play has also been picking up as they potted two goals with the man advantage on Saturday in their 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. They also scored one of their two goals against Calgary while on the power play.
Captain Rick Nash has been playing some of his best hockey lately. He scored a shortie on Saturday and is leading the team in scoring with 10 points (3, 7). He was a big part of the Blue Jackets victory over the Flames, assisting on both goals. Nash also leads the Blue Jackets in shots on net with 24.
Former Flame Kristian Huselius has also been hot in the early stage of the campaign. He scored the game-winner against Calgary last week and is second on the team in scoring with 5 points (2, 3).
The Blue Jackets will be without two of their top defensemen as Mike Commodore still isn't ready to return from a groin pull and Jan Hedja suffered a severe knee injury against the Flames last week.
The two teams won't meet again until Nov. 28 when the Flames head back to Ohio.
Calgary vs. Edmonton, Saturday, Oct. 24, 8:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, CBC & The FAN 960
The Edmonton Oilers are surprising a lot of people with their success thus far but they've fallen short both times they've faced off against the Flames. In the first two games of the season series, the Flames have made dramatic comebacks to secure the win.
In the first game, Nikolai Khabibulan handed the puck to a surging Moss, who deposited the game winner into the empty net with just 49 seconds left in the game. The second game went to shootout due to Rene Bourque's goal with a mere 1.5 seconds left in regulation.
"You can't lose two tougher games than that," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said. "We played very hard in both games and did a lot of good things. I guess it gives some adversity to deal with early in the season because those are two of the toughest losses you are going to see all year, I hope."
The Oilers record sits at 4-2-1 and they're currently third in the Northwest Division with nine points. While they didn't see a big change in personnal from last season, the attitude and compete level of several players have shifted dramatically.
Dustin Penner, who was benched often during the latter part of the 2008-09 season by former head coach Craig McTavish, is leading the team in scoring with nine points (5,4). He's not only been producing on the scoresheet - he's also the Oilers leading forward in the plus/minus category, holding onto a +5 rating. He has two points against the Flames this season.
"I really like his skills. We've got lots of those guys, but not all of them are playing well," head coach Pat Quinn told the Edmonton Journal.
Gilbert Brule is second in scoring for Edmonton with seven points (4,3) and has scored two game-winners for his club. He's also been pretty good in the faceoff circle, winning 50% of his draws.
"Coming in, the scouting report given to me was he didn't compete all the time. But that's one of the things I like and I'm seeing about young Gilbert. He'll give you an effort," said Quinn.
The Oilers will likely be looking for a bit of revenge against the Flames as it was Iginla who inadvertantly handed a concussion to their top defenseman Sheldon Souray. While chasing the puck into the Oilers zone, Iginla's stick got tangled up in Souray's skates and sent the defenseman into the boards head first. His recovery is going slower than expected and there's no way Edmonton players have forgotten about the incident.
Bourque is leading the Flames in scoring against the Oilers. He has four points in the first two games in the Battle of Alberta.
The next game between the Flames and Oilers will be on Dec. 28 in Edmonton.