The Calgary Flames head into December with smiles on their faces.
They’ve won three straight, including a home and home sweep of divisional rivals, the Vancouver Canucks, and are one point out of first place in the Northwest Division. This week, they’ll take on the struggling Dallas Stars at home before heading out on a four game road trip.
Part of the Flames success over the past three games can be credited to head coach Mike Keenan’s line shifting. Matthew Lombardi and Mike Cammalleri joined Jarome Iginla on the top line and there was an immediate impact. The trio has produced 11 points in three games. Cammalleri has really found his scoring touch on the line. He had his first career hat trick in Vancouver on Thursday and a goal against Los Angeles, his former team, on Tuesday.
"(Coach Mike Keenan) shifted the lines and as a group all our lines are looking better and developing chemistry,” said Iginla after Thursday’s 4-3 win.
Another reason could be the emergence of Curtis Glencross. The Kindersley, SK native has been on fire as of late with seven points in his last four games.
"I'm starting to feel more comfortable now," Glencross said. "It takes a while to settle in and get to know all the guys. We've been together for a few months now. I'm finding that chemistry with Connie and whoever is on the other side - (Dustin) Boyd, (David) Moss, or Rene.”
The Flames are hoping to ride the wave of success into their four game road trip – the longest they’ve embarked on yet this season. They’ll take on the Dallas Stars at the Saddledome on Tuesday before heading out to St. Louis on Friday.
Calgary vs. Dallas, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The struggling Stars are probably quite happy to be heading into a new month. November has seen Dallas win only four games, putting them dead last in the Western Conference standings with a mere 20 points.
Part of the reason the Stars haven’t been producing points is goaltending. Marty Turco, usually a very solid, dependable player, has been off this game this year. His save percentage is sitting at .868, placing him 47th within the NHL, and his GAA is 3.61, 45th in the league. His record is 6-10-4. Backup goalie Tobias Stephan has had much of the same luck. His save percentage and GAA are almost identical to Turco’s - .864 and 3.47.
|Mike Modano |
Another blow to the Stars was losing captain Brenden Morrow. The winger suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 20 and is out indefinitely. In 18 games, Morrow put up five goals and 10 assists.
The Stars have seen some offence outbursts though. Brad Richards leads the team in points with 21 while Mike Riberio is a close second with 20. Left-winger Loui Eriksson leads the teams in goals with 11.
Stephane Robidas has been rock solid for the Dallas defense. He leads the team with a +7 rating and nine points this year. He’s played in all 23 games for the Stars.
The Flames split the season series last year with two wins, both of which came on the road. The last time Calgary won against Dallas in the Saddledome was Jan. 6, 2007.
Matthew Lombardi led all current Flames in goals against the Stars last season with three, including a game winner.
Calgary vs. St. Louis, Friday, Dec. 5, 6:00 p.m. at the Scottrade Center, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The St. Louis Blues also had a rough November. They’ve only won five games in the month and picked up three of those wins on the road. They’re currently last in the Central Division with 22 points.
|Brad Boyes |
While the Blues may not be having the season they envisioned, veteran winger Keith Tkachuk is having quite the season. He’s currently second in team scoring with 11 goals and reached 1,000 career points on Sunday night. He’s leading the team with power play goals (seven) and shots on net (54). He has five helpers this campaign.
A hit to the Blues offense came on Nov. 16 when they lost Andy McDonald. The center is expected to miss eight weeks with a fractured left leg. While a member of the Anaheim Ducks, McDonald tallied a career-high 34 goals in the 2005-06 season. He followed that up with 27 goals in the 2006-07 season but only had 18 goals last season, which he spent with Anaheim and St. Louis. He has six goals and 12 assists this season.
Brad Boyes leads all Blues players in points with 20 and is the leader in team scoring with 12 goals. Boyes lead the team in scoring in last year’s season series against the Flames with four goals.
Last season, the Flames won the series against the Blues 3-1. Calgary’s lone loss came on Nov. 25, 2007 in St. Louis. The Flames fell 3-0 but rebounded with three straight wins. Calgary scored 15 goals in those three games with Kristian Huselius, Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow scoring netting three goals each to lead the team in scoring.
Miikka Kirprusoff won all three of his games against St. Louis last year. He posted a .901 save percentage and had a 2.33 GAA. Curtis McElhinney played in the sole loss, posting a .882 save percentage and a 2.04 GAA.
Calgary vs. New York Rangers, Sunday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The Rangers have surprised a lot of people this season with their winning ways. They’re currently tied for first overall with Boson in the Eastern Conference with 36 points and show no signs of slowing down.
|Nikolai Zherdev |
New York is coming into the week after a 4-0 thumping by the Florida Panthers but prior to that, they were riding a three-game winning streak that saw the Blueshirts outscore opponents 11-7.
A big reason for the Rangers success this year has been a complete game at both ends of the rink. The most goals the Rangers have allowed in a loss are six and that was a very rare occurrence. In 27 games, they’ve given up an average of 2.41 goals a game.
The defense is also giving the Rangers an offensive boost. Dan Giradi leads defensemen in points and goals. He has potted three goals and has tallied 15 points in 27 games.
Goaltending has been superb for the club as well. Henrik Lundqvist leads the league in goaltender wins with 15 and sports a 2.19 GAA and .925 save percentage. Backup netminder Stephen Valiquette has played well during his four games. He has a 2-2-0 record, a 2.60 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
The Flames only played one game against the Rangers last season. They won the home game 4-3 on Jan. 2, 2008. Iginla had two goals in the game. Huselius and Adrian Aucoin also scored for the Flames.
The last time Calgary won in New York was on Jan. 5, 2004.
This Week’s Key Numbers
Todd Bertuzzi is in the midst of a scoring slump. After netting seven goals in his first 11 games, he’s gone through 12 games without lighting the lamp. His last goal came on Nov. 2 against his former club, the Anaheim Ducks.
Captain Jarome Iginla is heating up. Iginla has points in six straight games with two goals and six assists.
Dustin Boyd has missed two straight games with an upper body injury.