Each Monday we start a new Flames Update. It includes Calgary Flames news, notes, quotes and anecdotes updated daily throughout the week with information from practices, games and morning skates.
Phaneuf likely to play against Canucks
The word on Wednesday from the Flames camp was that defenceman Dion Phaneuf was a probable for Thursday's game against Vancouver at the 'Dome.
Phaneuf missed practice on Tuesday because of a nagging leg injury. He had x-rays done and head coach Mike Keenan said the results were positive. Phaneuf worked out off the ice and plans on skating Thursday morning at the team's pre-game skate.
"He's going to skate tomorrow and I think he will be ready," said Keenan. "There was no negative feedback (from the x-rays) which is a good sign."
The same goes for Eric Nystrom. He is nursing an arm injury but skated with the team on Wednesday and will be available to dress for Thursday's game.Krahn practices
It's been a tough month or so for goalie Brent Krahn. He injured his knee during training camp and has been doing the lonely rehab. But he hit the ice to practice with the Flames on Wednesday.
Krahn was touted as the back-up to Miikka Kiprusoff
this season but the injury has put that on hold. Right now Matt Keetley is the Flames back-up and the Flames will not want to keep three goalies around for long. One of Keetley or Krahn will be assigned to the minors eventually.
"I'm sure he is happy to get back on the ice. It's a long month working in the gymnasium to get ready for a real practice," said Keenan.
The Calgary Flames are not a happy bunch right now.
But they are not pushing any panic buttons.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, with fans and media clamoring for answers, the Flames are looking within to stop the skid and move forward.
"We're not happy. The coaches aren't happy. Especially with our last game. We got outworked. We have to change that now," said Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
He was referring to the Flames 4-1 loss Monday at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. It marked the fourth game in a row that the Flames have lost by the identical score. But it stung more because the effort was not up to snuff.
"Teams go through different things. Part of being a veteran team is that we know it is not acceptable. You can break it down, we can break it down, coaches can break it down and do x's and o's. But the bottom line is our compete level has to come up," said Iginla, who continues to provide offence with 22 points through the first 15 games.
Iginla was able to see the bright side of the equation.
"We realize we can turn this around. We are in a playoff spot right now and we haven't been playing well," said Iginla."Right now we are a .500 team but we know we can be better."
Phaneuf, Nystrom miss practice
Forward Eric Nystrom and defenceman Dion Phaneuf both missed practice on Tuesday. Nystrom has a slight arm injury and was given the day off to rest and is expected to be ready for Thursday's game against Vancouver at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Phaneuf has been nursing an undisclosed leg injury. He was to have the leg examined and x-rayed on Tuesday. It is not known how serious the injury is but, at this point, there are no indications that Phaneuf will miss Thursday's game.
There was one noticeable line-up move at practice on Tuesday as David Moss was on the second line with Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow. That meant Owen Nolan, Matthew Lombardi were together on the third line along with Mark Smith.
The Calgary Flames, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, practised for a little more than an hour Tuesday at the Pengrowth Saddledome. And yes, Virginia, there was plenty of skating. Much of the practice was spent on end-to-end flow drills. The final 10 minutes of the practice featured laps around the nets. But head coach Mike Keenan said the practice was far from the old-fashioned "bag skate" and was more a fitness-based practice that would have happened had the Flames won their last three games.
"Not even close," laughed Keenan when asked if the practice would have been considered a bag skate. "It had pucks and sticks. I haven't (run a punishing, punishment, skate) since the fall of 1993."
"We would have practised like that if we had won10 in a row. There are only a few days in a month that you can...push your team. It is part and parcel of managing an NHL schedule," said Keenan, explaining that, with two days between games, the chance to have a fitness practice was penciled into the calendar a long time ago. "Don't misconstrue the workout today. I can tell you when we will do that again."
Veterans still learning how to win
Calgary head coach Mike Keenan is constantly asked to describe his team. He often says it is a team in a learning process. That can seem confusing because it is, essentially, a very veteran group of players.
But Keenan noted that, for the past two seasons, the Flames have made the playoffs only to lose in the first round. So the learning is about learning to win.
"This group has a lot to learn about winning," said Keenan.
There are plenty of theories about the team, especially with the current three-game slide which continued Monday with a rather uninspired effort in Denver.
"You have to get yourself prepared to go every night and that wasn't acceptable," said defenceman Cory Sarich of the effort in the Mile High city. "We need to establish ourselves as a hard-working team and that is something we haven't done consistently yet. It's tough. We should be better."
Tough divisional stretch continues
The Flames continue a stretch of eight games against Northwest Division opponents when they host Vancouver Thursday (7 p.m. The Fan 960 and Sportsnet TV), Edmonton Saturday (8 p.m., The Fan 960, CBC Hockey Night in Canada) and Minnesota on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. The Fan 960 and Sportsnet).
They then hit the road for dates in Edmonton and Vancouver before returning home to host Colorado.
The Flames lost the first two games, to Minnesota and Colorado, to start the divisional stretch of games.
"We are tightly bunched right now. It's a chance to change things," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "The division games are momentum games. You can build on it if you get wins."
Did you know....
Carolina’s Cory Stillman scored three goals in the first 11:28 of the Hurricanes’ 5-0 win over the Capitals Monday. It was the fastest three goals from the start of a game by an NHL player since January 14, 1990, when Calgary’s Brian McLellan recorded a hat trick in the first 5:21 of the Flames’ 6-5 win at Chicago.