Scouting the Flames: 01.11.09
A look at the Flames competition over the next week
As they head into November, the Calgary Flames are looking to get back to their winning ways after dropping the last two games of their five-game homestand. The Flames will embark on a brief two-game road swing before heading back to the friendly confines of the C of Red.
Despite the losses, the team is looking at the positives they have seen over the opening month of the regular season.
"As a team, it’s been a solid month," said Jarome Iginla. "We’re still making adjustments. I think guys are working to get better and we know Brent’s talked about and showed us different things we need to get better at. Guys heads are in the right place. We definitely have seen some results from doing that but at the same time, it’s still early in the season. We still need to get better and we think we’re capable of that."
One player who has heated up lately is Robyn Regehr. He looked a bit shaky in the early stages of the campaign but his play has gotten back on track and he's even chipping in offensively. On Saturday, he set a new career-high for himself when he assisted on Daymond Langkow's goal, giving himself points in five straight games. In that stretch, he has five helpers (now only three away from his eight last year) and has been an excellent +8 rating.
Calgary vs. Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center, TSN & The FAN 960
The Dallas Stars had a good start to their season but have fallen into a bit of a slump both at home and on the road. In their past three games they've given up at least a point to three teams with some of the worst stats in the league - the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. They're coming off back-to-back losses and have one word floating around their minds: consistency.
"I think we need consistency," Stephane Robidas told the Dallas News this weekend. "You look at the games and there are points when we don't play well. It's consistency and it's something we can correct. We can't focus on outskilling teams. We have to outwork them. If we do that, I like our chances."
Despite their inconsistent play, the Stars have been able to score goals. They're currently fifth in the league in goals for with 48 in 14 games, averaging 3.43 a game. Brad Richards has been leading the way offensively for the club. He has 17 points (5, 12) in 12 games and has eight points in his last five contests. He notched a goal against Calgary in their first meeting of the season.
The pesky Steve Ott has been in and out of the lineup throughout the month but has been effective for the Stars. After serving a two-game suspension for low hit, he made his presence known during his first game back on Saturday. He scored a power play marker against the Predators and was a constant presence on both special teams units.
"He's a talented player, and I think people sometimes don't see that because of the other parts of his game," head coach Marc Crawford said. "But he brings us a lot of options, from the top line all the way to the fourth. He just gives us the ability to use him in any situation."
The Stars have been playing with a depleted lineup lately. Marty Turco has missed the last two games with flu symptoms and both Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen have been sidelined with upper body injuries. Turco will be assessed on Monday and the two forwards are close to a return and could be ready to play against Calgary.
The last time these two met was on Oct. 9 when the Stars handed the Flames their first loss of the season. Alex Auld held the fort in net for Dallas and five different Stars scored in the 5-2 victory. Dion Phaneuf and Rene Bourque tallied for Calgary.
Calgary vs. St. Louis, Thursday, Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m. at the Scottrade Center, CalgaryFlames.com & The FAN 960
The Flames have had no problem finding the back of the net this season. The St. Louis Blues can't say the same. They're coming off two straight shutouts on home ice and have gone 123:50 without seeing the red light.
"Whatever it is, we have to put pucks in," forward Brad Boyes told St. Louis Today. "Enough is enough here. ... The way things are going, at home, we're not playing tough. I don't have the answers, but we've got to keep going forward."
Keith Tkachuk is the Blues leading scorer with just three goals and nine points on the year. The Blues only have seven skaters with over five points and have nine players who haven't scored a single goal this year.
To make matters worse for the Blues, center Andy McDonald may be out for Thursday. He slid hard into the boards on Saturday and left the game immediately after the spill. McDonald is the Blues second leading scorer, with four goals and seven points. He will be assessed during the week to determine if he's well enough to take part in the game against the Flames.
St. Louis may get another player back on Thursday however. T.J. Oshie has been out since Oct. 23 after he underwent surgery to remove his appendix. The forward skated with the team on Saturday and expects to be back this week.
"I didn't really feel it. Obviously I know it's there, and I'm aware of it, but it didn't hold me back at all. I feel like I'm ready to go, but obviously I've been out for a week now," Oshie told St. Louis Today after practice on Saturday.
Goaltending duties have been split between Chris Mason and Ty Conklin. While Mason is the team's starter, Conklin has made five appearances this season. Mason was in net on Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Florida Panthers but with five days of rest, he may get the start on Thursday. He has a 3-4-1 record with a 2.74 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
Don't be surprised if Curtis McElhinney starts in the net for the Flames. Sutter wants to give Kiprusoff some breaks during a hectic November schedule.
"Once we get into November and it heats up, you’ve certainly got to expect Mac to get in there and play some games," he said last week. "When he gets in there, we need him playing well. We need the team playing well in front of him and we need him playing well."
Calgary vs. New York, Saturday, Nov. 7, 8:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, CBC & The FAN 960
The Rangers started their season on a great note, going 7-3-0 in their first 10 games but have fallen into a slump lately. They've dropped three of their last five and head into the week on a loss to the lowly Minnesota Wild.
"We go back to work, there's no magic potion trying to get out of this here," Rangers head coach John Tortorella told the New York Post after the loss. "It's just a matter of trying to cut down on our mistakes, especially the turnovers in the neutral zone, and go back to work and find a way."
One reason for the Rangers recent woes is the loss of Marian Gaborik. A knee injury has sidelined him for two games and while he did participate in contact drills on Saturday, he's still not 100 per cent. Gaborik has 10 goals and 18 points in 12 games, leading all Rangers in scoring. It is unknown when he'll return to action but he most likely will play against Calgary.
Injuries took Sean Avery and Chris Higgins out of games last week as well.
"You can’t whine about that," Tortorella said of the injuries his club has suffered. "There are some people in our lineup that are supposed to be offensive players that haven’t contributed enough."
The NHL's most controversial player, Avery, will be in the Rangers lineup on Saturday. The aggravator missed Friday's game with a sore knee but is expected to be back in action this week. This will be Avery's first return to Calgary since derogatory comments earned him a six-game suspension, and ended his tenure with the Dallas Stars, last December. There is no doubt the C of Red will be filled with boos every time #16 touches the puck.
Avery has two goals and six points in his nine games this season.
Henrik Lundqvist has been his usual, dependable self in net. Going 7-4-1, the Swede has posted a 2.68 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Despite that, he hasn't looked overly sharp over the last five games. He's lost four of the five and has allowed 16 goals in that stretch.
The last time the Rangers visited was Jan. 2, 2008 with the Flames coming out with a close 4-3 decision. Calgary has won three of the last five meetings, recording two shutouts and outscoring the Blueshirts 15-9.
- Cory Sarich needs 1 game for 700
- Daymond Langkow needs 2 goals for 250
- Jarome Iginla needs 3 assists for 450 and 15 assists to pass Theoren Fleury for 2nd spot amongst Flames all-time assist leaders
- Miikka Kiprusoff needs 3 more wins for 200 with the Flames and 4 games for 400
- Craig Conroy needs 4 points for 300 with the Flames and 8 goals for 100 with the Flames
- Fredrik Sjostrom needs 7 points for 100