Seven straight wins for the Flames.
Six consecutive victories for the Montreal Canadiens.
Two of the hottest teams in the NHL will face off this evening in a game that has a Clash of the Titans feel to it.
But that storyline isn't influencing the Flames' mindset heading into tonight's tilt (7:00 p.m., SNW, SN960).
"Any time you're in one of these streaks, you don't want it to end. For us though, we're honestly just trying to set the seven games aside and look at these two points," Mark Giordano emphasized. "We have an opportunity - I don't think Edmonton plays tonight - so we have an opportunity to try and close the gap with them and move up. That's how we're looking at it. Every point is obviously critical."
Through 66 games, the Flames hold a 36-26-4 record with 76 points, which places them in the first Wildcard spot in the West. The aforementioned Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks have also played 66 games and both have 78 points on the year. The Oilers are idle this evening while the Ducks face the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks, who have won seven straight games, this evening.
But before they look ahead to what implications a win would have on the standings, they must get past the Habs.
The Canadiens have made a multitude of changes over the past month, including hiring Claude Julien as their new head coach and adding size to their lineup by bringing in forwards Dwight Kings, Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott and defencemen Brandon Davidson, Jordie Benn and Nikita Nesterov.
Since coming back from their bye week on Feb. 18, the Canadiens lead the NHL in hits (265) and have the third best record in the league during that stretch at 7-2-0.
"They're still a really fast team," cautioned Giordano. "That's what we saw when we went to Montreal and had a tough time. We've got to eliminate speed and obviously turnovers create speed for them so we've got to eliminate that. But we've got to play fast as well.
"Obviously, at the deadline there, their goal was to get bigger and a little bit more gritty. But I think we're going to see a lot of the same speed that we saw in that last game. I don't think they players they brought in slowed them down at all."
"We know how well Montreal is playing, how quick they are and the changes they've made. They've been playing really well," Gulutzan added. "But our tempo, we've been working on that since the start of the season. The way we practice is the way we (play) - we start real quick in practice for the first 12-15 minutes. It's started to translate into games and we're going to need that tonight."
While the Flames are focused on a quick start, they have proven to be one of the league's most resilient teams. They have allowed the first goal in five of their last six skates and have a NHL-leading 16 wins in games the opposition have gotten onto the board first.
"We've gone on a run here and we haven't gotten into trouble because when we do get down, we're sticking with our game plan and we've got to continue that," Giordano said.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence so that's a huge factor in the feeling around the room - you go out on the ice and everybody expects to win. That's how you have to play in this league, to win," Michael Stone added. "If you go out there and you're not confident in the way you're playing, good things aren't going to happen to you."