Flames take impressive road streak to Phoenix
Thursday, 12.03.2009 / 7:30 PM
FLAMES (17-6-3) at COYOTES (15-11-1)
Last 10 --
Calgary 6-2-2, Phoenix 5-4-1.
-- It's the second meeting of the season and also the second in slightly more than a week as the Flames pulled out a 2-1 win at Pengrowth Saddledome on Nov. 25. Nigel Dawes ended a 12-game goal-less streak by scoring the winner with 5:44 remaining in regulation, while the team ended its home woes that saw four losses five games.
-- The Flames have turned into the ultimate road warriors of the NHL, picking up points in 10 consecutive away games, tying a franchise record. November overall has been a month to remember for Calgary, in which they went 10-2-2; the 10 wins one short of another franchise record, eight of those victories on the road as well.
Since that game in Calgary, the Coyotes have strung together a pair of impressive division wins against the Stars and the Ducks and look to start December somewhat better than they did November, which they opened with a 4-7-1 record.
Since a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Oct. 24, the Flames have gone 8-0-2 on the road, improving their League-best away record to 10-1-3. Compared to their 7-5-0 home mark, it's as if the team takes on a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation once they leave their friendly confines. That might be attributed to normally mild-mannered coach Brent Sutter taking on some of the Hyde character after a 7-1 clobbering a couple of weeks back at the hands of the Blackhawks.
"I don't know if there is anything we do differently on the road," defenseman Adam Pardy said after scoring his first goal since the season opener Oct. 1 in the Flames' 5-0 win over Nashville. "We pride ourselves on being a good road team."
Even more important than the overall road record might be their performance on this current trip, one of the harder ones they'll have this year. They've already beaten Detroit, Columbus and Nashville and still have the Sharks and Kings after this tilt in Glendale.
It's been a month since the 'Yotes last put three wins together, but they came out of November on the right foot. After scoring only six times in a four-game stretch, they've scored eight in their last two.
"We are not an offensive juggernaut as of yet," captain Shane Doan
said of his team, who are averaging 2.44 goals per game on the season. "We realize that if we can keep our head above water and keep picking away, we think that we are capable of being better than what we've done so far."
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov can carry a team through scoring slumps, and he has been particularly effective at home, going 8-3-0 with a 1.88 GAA. He's 2-0-0 since the loss to Calgary.
Who's hot --
On the Flames, you can pick any aspect of the game and find someone who's doing well with it. Offense? There's Jarome Iginla
with 20 points in 14 games and the NHL First Star for November honors to show for it. Dawes stopped his slump against the Coyotes and then scored goals in three more games since. Defense? Dion Phaneuf had 35 hits in November, Mark Giordano
24, Jay Bouwmeester
blocked 21 shots. Goaltending? Miikka Kiprusoff
is nursing a 129:30 shutout streak with back-to-back goose eggs to his credit.
Injury report --
Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forward Peter Mueller skated on Tuesday and are still questionable for Thursday. Flames forward Rene Bourque
, who missed six games with an undisclosed upper-body injury, told reporters he will definitely be ready to play against Phoenix.
Stat pack --
Recent events notwithstanding, the Flames do have a good track record in Arizona. Iginla has 22 goals and 11 assists in 24 career games in Phoenix. Kiprusoff is 11-5-1 lifetime versus the Coyotes, while the team overall has a four-game winning streak at Jobing.com Arena and a 9-1-1 record in their last 11 games there.
Puck drop --
The Coyotes seem to have things going in the right direction, just in time for one of their toughest home tests of the season against a Flames team that has taken off and doesn't appear to be looking back.