Maintenance day for the captain & crew
The Calgary Flames hit the ice for an off-day skate on Thursday but were without a few members of the team, including Jarome Iginla.
He, Eric Nystrom and Craig Conroy did not take part in the practice but head coach Brent Sutter assured the gathered media that it was just a maintenance day for the trio.
"It's no big deal, they had a day off."
Loving the top line
Since the return of Rene Bourque, Nigel Dawes has been moved up to the top line with Iginla and Olli Jokinen and he has managed to fit right in. He potted a goal against the Thrashers on Wednesday, his ninth of the campaign, and has been an offensive threat since joining that line.
"I think I’m still learning every game, but I enjoy playing with them. We’re starting to find some chemistry a little bit," said Dawes. "I think it can just keep growing. Obviously it’s not just going to happen overnight. As I’m playing with them more, I think things are going to happen."
While it's still too early to tell, it's likely Dawes will retain his spot on the first line if he continues to play the way he has been of late.
"For me to have success with them, I think I have to keep playing the way I have. I can’t change anything because when I try and change and maybe try and play how they play, we’re going to come into problems," was his answer when asked what he thought he needed to do to maintain success with Jokinen and Iginla. "They’re two of the best players in the league and I just have to bring my elements to the line and use those to help them out."
He's helped them out plenty. In the last three games, Jokinen and Iginla have combined for five points (2+3). Jokinen had nothing but praise for the Winnipeg native when asked about their recent success.
"He’s been playing well. He’s a highly skilled player who can make plays and you know, he’s been a scoring threat the last three games. We need him to play that way," said Jokinen. "He’s one of those guys who wants to make plays and sees the ice well. It's easy to play with him."
Getting ready for the Wild
The Flames will clash with divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild, for the first time this season. After a slow start, the Wild have picked up their game and rattled off six wins in their last seven contests.
"They’ve been good the last ten games or so. I think their record’s pretty good," Curtis Glencross said. "We haven’t really seen too much of them yet so we’ll do our homework on them tomorrow morning when we do our video and we’ll go from there.”
David Moss says the forwards need to be aggressive against the notoriously stingy defensive style the boys from Minnestoa tend to play.
“They play a really good defensive game. They’ve been as of late so certainly their confidence will be there and it will be a good test for us.”
Defenceman Robyn Regehr says the key is keep the shots against down. In the past few games, the shots sent at Miikka Kiprusoff have been hovering around 24 or 25 - a number the Flames are comfortable with.
"I think we’ve worked hard as a team to get those shots on goal down to a more manageable number and that’s right around 25 or 26. I think if we do that every night, I think we’re in the game and we’re giving ourselves a chance to win," he smiled. "We’re also not overworking him (Kiprusoff). I think over the last couple years we’ve been up right around 32 or 33 shots and that’s just too many shots, too many chances. For him, he’s a guy who plays a lot of games so the less shots you make him face, the better.”
Did you know...
Iginla is now just six assists shy of passing Theoren Fleury for second spot on the Flames all-time assists leaders list ... the Flames have scored first in 23 of their 30 contests this season ... expect a tight game on Friday night - three of the last four games the Flames have played in have ended in a 2-1 decision ... Conroy is just two points away from hitting 300 with the Flames.