BLACKHAWKS (12-5-2) at FLAMES (12-5-2)
Last 10 -- Blackhawks 7-2-1; Flames 6-3-1
Season series -- It's the second of four meetings this season. The Flames would undoubtedly love to forget the first one -- they took a 5-0 first-period lead but lost 6-5 in overtime on Oct. 12.
Big story -- The Flames have some demons to exorcise as the Hawks pay their first visit of the season to the Pengrowth Saddledome. Not only will they be looking to atone for blowing a five-goal lead at Chicago last month, they'll be hosting the Blackhawks for the first time since Chicago eliminated Calgary from the playoffs at the Saddledome last April. The Flames are also coming off a disappointing 3-2 home loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
Blackhawks -- As is the case every November in Chicago, the circus is in town for two weeks -- and the Blackhawks aren't. This is the opener of the Hawks' annual "Circus Trip," and they may miss the friendly confines of the United Center, where they just swept a four-game homestand that included wins over Colorado, San Jose and Los Angeles. The Hawks will have plenty of momentum as they start a six-game swing through Western Canada and California, but the road hasn't been nearly as kind to Chicago as the Windy City.
The Blackhawks haven't won away from home since Oct. 15, and this trip will provide few breaks. Only two of their six opponents have sub-.500 records, and four of them made the playoffs in 2008-09. Still, if the Hawks continue to get production from young guns Patrick Kane, who has scored in three straight games, and Jonathan Toews, who has four points in four games since returning to the lineup, Chicago may start feeling more at home away from home.
Flames -- The Flames didn't let the blown five-goal lead get them down. They regrouped in October and are 5-1-1 in November, including a 4-1-1 mark away from the Saddledome. While Calgary is coming off a disappointing loss to Colorado on Tuesday -- a win would have put the Flames in first place in the Northwest -- it's still on a torrid pace over the first half of the month.
Much of this can be attributed to the play of Miikka Kiprusoff, who had given up just five goals in the Flames' five games prior to the loss to Colorado. Offensively, Rene Bourque and Jarome Iginla have combined for 15 points this month.
Who's hot -- Rumor has it Kane is one of three young players on the verge of signing a long-term extension with Chicago; if his recent performance is any indication, it will be money well spent. In addition to his three-game goal streak, Kane has at least one point in seven straight games and 10 of his last 11. For Calgary, Iginla looks as strong as ever, scoring eight goals in his last seven games.
Injury report -- The Hawks' offense will get a boost soon, as Marian Hossa is expected to return at some point during the trip. Also, forward Kris Versteeg is listed as probable for Thursday. Calgary should have a full lineup.
Stat pack -- While the Hawks' recent road woes are well documented, Cristobal Huet doesn't seem to be suffering from the same ailments. Huet's 2.25 goals-against average ranks 10th in the League, but he actually has a better mark on the road (2.06 GAA) than at the United Center (2.32 GAA).
Puck drop -- Chicago has won five consecutive regular-season games against Calgary, and nine of 11 overall. Coming off a loss that would have put them atop the standings, the Flames will be eager to get another shot at first place. Breaking their hex against the Hawks in the process wouldn't hurt.