While the Flames are heading into the first full week of 2009 on a loss, they probably aren’t feeling too badly about their performances as of late. They’ve picked up points in 10 of their last 12 games, have set some major milestones and play both of their games this week at home.
The 5-2 loss on Sunday to the Chicago Blackhawks night was a disappointment but the Calgary Flames red-hot play doesn’t look like it will dim. A strong third period was stifled only by the strong play of Nikolai Khabibulin. The Russian netminder has always been a thorn in the Flames side and played extremely well once again. He’s now 21-5-2 against Calgary in his career.
It was Calgary’s first regulation loss in 11 games.
Five hundred points in a league that I thought I was never get to play in is probably the most rewarding thing for me - Craig Conroy
Todd Bertuzzi scored and had an assist in the game, mirroring his production in the Flames 3-2 win in Nashville. The winger appears to be heating up offensively. He has seven points in his last five contests and in three of those outings, he has picked up two points.
Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri have been hot lately as well. Both forwards scored five points in the 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, a career high for both men.
"It was a good way to end the year (with) a team effort and to beat the Oilers also for the first time this year,” said Iginla after the game.
Iginla now has 18 goals and 46 points on the year. Cammalleri trails the captain in scoring with 14 goals and 34 points.
Craig Conroy started 2009 off with a major career milestone: he collected his 500th point on Saturday when he assisted on Bertuzzi’s game winner.
"Five hundred points in a league that I thought I was never get to play in is probably the most rewarding thing for me. Five hundred points in a league that I thought I was never get to play in is probably the most rewarding thing for me," Conroy said. "And to have it be the game-winner by Bertuzzi, what a great play by him."
This week will see the San Jose Sharks and the New York Islanders pay a visit to the Sea of Red and the Flames will go head-to-head with each other in the Danone SuperSkills competition on Sunday.
Calgary vs. San Jose, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 8:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
|Joe Thornton |
The San Jose Sharks went into the new year as the best team in NHL and while there’s still a long way to go, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they’ll remain a powerhouse throughout the rest of the season. Consistent, solid play at both ends of the rink has made them the toughest team to beat.
While they’ve stellar on the road, the Sharks only regulation losses, four of them, have come when they’re the visitor. Their last regulation loss came on Dec. 18 when Detroit thumped them 6-0.
Offense has come easily to the Sharks. All of their lines have the ability to put the puck in the twine and five of their players have over 10 goals. Captain Patrick Marleau has 19 goals on the season, leading all Sharks. Marleau has 22 assists and four in his last five contests. In 39 career games against the Flames, he has 12 goals and 16 helpers.
Joe Thornton leads his team in points with 46. He has a whopping 37 assists this season which is second only to Evgeni Malkin’s 45. His steady, dependable presence up front has been a major factor in the Sharks success. Thorton has a +19 rating, a sign of his stellar play.
In their last meeting, the Sharks played the unusual role of motivator for the Flames. San Jose hammered Calgary 6-1 on Nov. 13 and from that point on, the Flames picked up the pace and steamrolled ahead to become the leaders in the Northwest.
A string of penalties in the first period sunk the Flames. The Sharks were able to capitalize on all four of the Flames infractions during the first twenty minutes and Calgary was unable to muster any offense afterwards.
Joe Pavelski was a force to be reckoned with during the Flames loss. He scored two goals and had an assist in the contest. He currently has 11 goals and 26 points on the year.
Mike Cammalleri had the Flames lone goal in the game.
The Flames will play the Shark two more times this season. The next game comes next Thursday in San Jose.
Calgary vs. New York, Thursday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
|Doug Weight |
The New York Islanders aren’t having the season they envisioned. They’re sitting dead last in the NHL with a mere 28 points in 40 games and have a 12-24-4 record.
Goaltending has been an issue for the struggling Islanders. Rick DiPietro hasn’t been been playing that well and has struggled with injuries all season. After playing a single game in December, he missed three more with a groin injury. He returned on Jan. 2, allowing five goals in the Islanders loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. After the game, DiPietro joked with media members about his health woes.
"It felt good," said DiPietro of his physical condition. "It was good to get some live action. It's nice I didn't hurt anything."
Joey MacDonald took over goaltending duties the next night but the Islanders still fell short in San Jose, losing 5-3. It’s unknown if MacDonald will continue starting throughout the Islanders West Coast road swing.
Coming into the week, the Islanders have lost 12 straight on the road. They’ll visit Edmonton on Monday before coming into Calgary.
The Islanders points leader is veteran Doug Weight. He has tallied seven goals and 32 points in 37 games. He’s in a bit of an offense slump at the moment however. He’s only picked up three points in his last five games and hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 16.
Captain Bill Guerin leads the team in scoring with 13 goals. While the winger has five points in his last five games, he hasn’t scored since Boxing Day when he netted two in New York’s 4-1 win over Toronto.
Last season, the Flames fell 5-4 in a shootout against the Islanders on Jan. 11. In their past five meetings, the Islanders have a 3-2-0 record. The Flames last win over New York came on Jan. 6, 2004 in New York. The last home win over the Isles came on Nov. 23, 1999 when the Flames won 3-2.
This Week’s Key Numbers
With one more win, Miikka Kiprusoff will solely hold the second position in Flames goaltender victories. He’s also sitting at the top spot of wins by a goaltender this season with 23. The Sharks Evgeni Nabokov trails him by two wins.
The Flames reached 50 points in 38 games this season – the fastest time in franchise history.
Dion Phaneuf hasn’t scored a goal in 22 games. The defenseman has only one point in his last five contests.
Daymond Langkow has points in four straight games, notching six points.