A slow start is not enough to throw the Calgary Flames into a collective panic. Especially not with the Edmonton Oilers in town.
The Flames look to turn things around by continuing their recent dominance over the Oilers on Tuesday night in the first meeting of the season between the provincial rivals.
Especially after missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons, a 1-3-0 record is not the way Calgary hoped to start 2011-12. Though three of those contests came on the road, the Flames are not making excuses for the slow start or putting too much pressure on themselves to break out of the rut.
"When things are tough, it's easy to start point fingers and be negative around here," forward Olli Jokinen
told the Flames' official website. "We've got to move on and try to get a win."
That's very much possible Tuesday.
The Flames have won 12 of 13 against the Oilers (2-1-1), including the last five meetings overall. They've also outscored Edmonton 39-17 while winning eight in a row at home in the series since a 4-3 loss Oct. 17, 2008.
Despite that run of dominance, Calgary coach Brent Sutter believes he needs to see better focus from his club.
"Right now we have some guys that aren't engaged like they need to be, mentally into the game," Sutter said. "There's not enough urgency in their game. It's noticeable. It's unacceptable."
While Jokinen and Alex Tanguay
are tied for the early team lead with four points, captain Jarome Iginla
has just one goal through four games after posting 43 last season. This contest could be coming at the right time for Iginla, who has five goals with two assists in his last two games versus Edmonton.
Teammate Curtis Glencross
has picked up the slack by tying for the club lead with three goals. He also has three in his last four games against the Oilers.
, who stopped 22 shots in a 3-2 loss at Toronto on Saturday, has posted a 2.48 goals-against average during a personal six-game home winning streak versus Edmonton.
The Oilers continued their solid start to the season Monday with a 3-1 home win over Nashville. Ryan Smith had a goal and an assist, and Shawn Horcoff added three assists - his first points of the season.
"It was a really good win for us, and hopefully a momentum-builder going forward," Horcoff said.
Edmonton rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the top overall pick in this year's draft, added his first career assist after scoring four goals in the previous three games.
Calgary's coaching staff should be familiar with Nugent-Hopkins, who played for the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels - a club owned by Sutter.
"Ryan's a very good player," Sutter said. "But as we go along here, you know there is going to be more and more attention paid to it. It's very, very early in the year yet but (he's) a phenomenal player."
Smyth has two goals to start his second stint with the Oilers, but has been held without one in his last six games versus Calgary.