The Five Takeaways: Flames vs. Blackhawks
Five key elements from the Flames clash with the boys from the Windy City
The Flames made some major roster adjustments before jetting off to the Windy City on Thursday. Niklas Hagman was placed on waivers, Brendan Morrison (knee) and Anton Babchuk (hand) were placed on the Injured Reserve, TJ Brodie and Paul Byron were recalled from the Abbotsford Heat and Mikael Backlund was declared ready to play.
Despite being sidelined with a broken finger for the first 14 games of the season, Backlund was placed on the Flames first line with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla. The bench boss felt that Backlund's intensive training whilst rehabbing his digit kept him in prime condition to play those top line minutes and he proved that theory was correct.
Backlund put three shots on net, attempted seven, threw two hits and won six of nine faceoffs in his 15:53 of ice time.
They won puck battles in the corners, continually pressured the Chicago defence, and physically punished their opposition. They were buzzing around the net every shift, making sure at least one of them were in Ray Emery's kitchen when they were in zone. Their puck management was excellent, opting to make short, crisp passes to one another rather than trying to get fancy. In short, they kept their game simple which maximized their potential.
The three combined for nine shots on net and 11 hits.
No one can say the Flames haven't been applying pressure offensively in their last two outings. They've put 66 shots on net in those games but before Olli Jokinen potted the lone Flames tally, the team had gone 144:56 without scoring.
On Friday, they just couldn't seem to get their shots off quickly enough when they found open space in front of the net. If they were able to get a hard shot, they missed the net. And, quite frankly, they were unlucky when it came to bounces. All things combined have made the past few games incredibly frustrating for the Flames.
Chicago has been an extremely inhospitable road stop for the Flames over the past couple of years. Calgary has now lost seven straight contests at the United Center. The Flames last win at the United Center came on Mar. 16, 2008 when they handed the Blackhawks a 4-2 loss. Chicago has outscored Calgary by a 35-16 margin during the Flames losing streak in the Windy City.