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Flames Update: The Northwest tightens up

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames
Notes, quotes and anecdotes following the Flames-Predators game January 15 in Nashville...


The Calgary Flames dropped their fourth straight game Tuesday, falling 3-0 to the Nashville Predators. The dressing room following the game was not a happy place as the Flames were unable to find a truly solid part to their game.

"We had some spurts but...for the most part we didn't do things right," said forward David Moss, playing his first game in 19 as he returned from an ankle injury. "We didn't get pucks behind them. We turned the puck over too much.

"They capitalized on their chances and we couldn't get anything going in their end."

Following the third goal of the game, on a power play early in the third period, the Flames pulled Miikka Kiprusoff and inserted Curtis McElhinney into the net. He didn't allow a goal the rest of the way.

"He was solid," said head coach Mike Keenan. "I was very pleased and proud of him to be able to sit so long and be able to come in and play the way that he did. It was impressive."

Our game, every part of it, could be a lot sharper - Jarome Iginla
McElhinney had not played since late December, another relief performance.

The back-up goalie might have been the bright spot for the Flames.

"Our game, every part of it, could be a lot sharper," said captain Jarome Iginla.


Oh, it's a tight race

The Detroit Red Wings may be running and hiding but the remainder of the Western Conference is in a dogfight.

All you have to do is look at the Northwest Division where eight points separate last in the division (Edmonton, 46 points) from the top of the division (Vancouver and Minnesota, 54 points).

That sets up a race to the finish where winning the division makes a big difference in the playoff seeding.

"I guess Detroit is is the only team that hasn't had the ebbs and flows," noted Flames head coach Mike Keenan. "It doesn't take much to separate one team from another and it is going to be that way for the rest of the season. There's no let-up in the league."

Four of the five teams in the Northwest Division had games Tuesday The only team off was Minnesota, the Flames opponents Wednesday in Minnesota. The Canucks lost to Columbus and Colorado beat Tampa, making things even more crowded. The Avs move past the Flames and hold a one-point lead over the Flames, who fall to fourth in the division with their loss to the Predators. Still, they are just two points out of first making the game against Minnesota Wednesday extremely important.

"It's real demanding to come up with points every night," sighed  Keenan.

Nystrom on injured reserve

Forward Eric Nystrom has been placed on the injured reserve list with a fractured jaw, suffered Jan. 8 against Phoenix when he took a puck in the face.
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With Nystrom going on injured reserve, his former linemate at the University of Michigan and in the American Hockey League last season, David Moss returned to the Flames line-up after missing more than six weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Moss, who scored 10 goals in his rookie year last season but has just  one this season, drew in on a line with Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd.

Flames defenceman Adrian Aucoin returned from a groin injury, having missed four games.

That left D Rhett Warrener and forwards Wayne Primeau and Marcus Nilson as the healthy scratches.



Keenan looking for more scoring

Calgary head coach Mike Keenan is looking for secondary scoring, from the third and fourth lines. It's no secret that players like Jarome Iginla (32 goals), Kristian Huselius (20 goals), Daymond Langkow (17 goals), Alex Tanguay (11 goals) have been carrying most of the offensive load this season for the Flames.

But they are not all going to score every game, so the Flames coaching staff are looking for scoring from the third and fourth lines.

"We are definitely looking for...those groups to contribute more offensively. We are asking them to be more than checkers, which is important, and to contribute offensively once in a while. That would help us a lot," said Keenan.

That's a call out from the coach to players like Stephane Yelle, Mark Smith, David Moss, and Matthew Lombardi.

Nolan getting primed

Owen Nolan, the veteran winger signed as a free agent in the off-season, is feeling much better these days. According to CBC's Don Cherry, Nolan looks like the player he was during his prime with the San Jose Sharks.

"I don't know about prime but I am feeling good," chuckled Nolan. "I get a little disappointed in myself because I'm not scoring more. There are chances to score and I'm not bearing down and scoring all the time. But the puck is following me around a little more."

Nolan has nine goals this season.


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