The Christmas season has been good to the Calgary Flames. Last week, they won both of their games, saw Rene Bourque build on his season success with his first career hat trick and are sitting at the top of Northwest Division. This week, they’ll have their hands full with four games, split at home and on the road.
Bourque has been one of the most consistent – and productive –Flames this season. He sits second in goals on the team, trailing Jarome Iginla
by two, and sixth on the team in points with 22. On Saturday, his first career hat trick helped lift the Flames to a 6-3 victory over the slumping Ottawa Senators.
"It was a bit of a shock, coming to a team like Calgary, in the playoffs the last couple years," said Bourque. "It was a fresh start, I'm healthy finally, and I have confidence right now. Things are going my way."
Earlier in the week, another milestone was reached. Brett Sutter, son of general manager Darryl Sutter, was called up from the Quad City Flames on Dec. 22. He played his first NHL game on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks and scored his first goal, tying the game up early in the second frame.
"It's pretty special," said Sutter, a sixth round draft pick in the 2005 NHL draft. "I was out there for that first one, I thought that was pretty exciting but I didn't really do a lot. Once that second one went in for me, I was real excited."
Sutter has one goal and six assists in 28 games for Quad City.
This week the Flames will play two games at home before going on two-game road trip over the week.
Calgary vs. Minnesota, Monday, Dec. 29, 7:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
After a dominant October and November, the Wild have lost a lot steam. They’re only picked up three wins over the course of the month and are coming off a loss Sunday night to Chicago.
Slow starts can be attributed to the Wild’s woes this past month. They’ve given up the first goal in ten straight games and have gone 2-7-1 because of that.
|Marian Gaborik |
Mikko Koivu has been stellar for the Wild thus far. He leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 35 points. He has five points in his last five games. However, he hasn’t excelled at putting up the points against the Flames during his career. In 23 games against Calgary, he has only four goals and five assists.
The Flames have only played their divisional rival Minnesota once this season and were victorious in overtime. Todd Bertuzzi scored the overtime winner, breaking a 20 game scoring drought.
The game marked the return of Marian Gaborik. He was out with a lower body injury for 27 games and had an immediate impact. The crafty forward scored a goal and assisted on Andrew Brunette’s goal. He did not play Sunday against Chicago and isn’t expected to play against the Flames. The team is trying to ease him back into the lineup.
The two teams will meet four more times this season.
Calgary vs. Edmonton, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 8:00 p.m. at the Pengrowth Saddledome, TSN & The FAN 960
Edmonton ended their holiday break with a big win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday. After going into the second period tied at 2-2, the Oilers broke out with three straight goals and the Predators weren’t able to recover.
The Oilers have had shaky goaltending this season but it seems as if Dwayne Roloson has been able to pick up his game. He currently has nine wins on the season, a 2.58 GAA and .921 save percentage.
Sheldon Souray is Edmonton’s leading scorer with 11 goals. Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff trail with 10.
|Sheldon Souray |
Despite trialing the Flames in the standings, the Oilers have had the Flames number this season. In both games they’ve played this season, Edmonton has won by a single goal and has scored three consecutive goals in the second period in each contest.
Daymond Langkow has been the Flames top offensive threat with three points. Bertuzzi is second with a goal and an assist.
Former Oiler Curtis Glencross had an impressive pre-season against Edmonton, He had two helpers and a goal in the two games. He has a single assist against the Oilers in the regular season.
Scoring against the Flames is spread out among the Oilers. However, Andrew Cogliano is the only player on either team with more than a single goal in the season series. He scored in both games.
Calgary vs. Nashville, Saturday, Jan. 3, 1:00 p.m. at the Sommet Center, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The Predators come into the week on a sour note. They fell to the Oilers on Sunday by a score of 5-2 and starting goalie Dan Ellis didn’t look too sharp in the contest. He was pulled midway through the second period after allowing four goals. Ellis has been playing through a cold and if that’s not cleared up by the weekend, backup Pekka Rinne will be called upon.
|Dan Ellis |
Calgary has beaten the Predators in both contests this season, outscoring Nashville 12-9. Iginla has been a Nashville killer, tallying seven points in the two games. He scored a hat trick in the first game and twice in the second game.
Craig Conroy has also been productive against the Predators. He has five points, including two goals in the November 7-6 win.
Jason Arnott has been the Predators best player against Calgary. He has two goals and two assists. Both of his goals came on the powerplay. He’s currently leading his team in scoring with 13 goals.
Nashville has had a potent powerplay against the Flames. While Calgary has been top-notch at killing penalties, the Predators have lit the lamp three times with the man advantage. They’ve also scored two shorthanded goals in the two games.
Calgary vs. Chicago, Sunday, Jan. 4, 5:00 p.m. at the United Center, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
The Chicago Blackhawks are flying at the moment and they don’t look like they’ll be slowing down any time soon. With their 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, the Hawks are fourth in the Western Conference with 47 points. They now trail Detroit by a mere four points.
|Patrick Kane |
They also set a franchise record with the win. They’ve now won nine straight contests.
Offensively, the Hawks are led by youngster Patrick Kane. He leads his team in points with 41. He has 16 goals so far and is on pace for 39 this season.
Patrick Sharp has been a sniper this year. He has lit the lamp 19 times this season and has 11 assists. His career high in goals came last season when he netted 36.
The Blackhawks have stifled the Flames so far this season. In their first meeting, the Hawks thumped Calgary 6-1 in November and then slipped past the Flames in overtime in December. The two teams will meet twice more this season so Calgary has the opportunity to even up the season series.
Bourque is the leading scorer against the Hawks this season. He has two points against his former club.
This Week’s Key Numbers
Rene Bourque scored his first career hat trick on Saturday, pushing his goal total up to 14 this season. In the 2005-06 season, as a Chicago Blackhawk, Bourque tallied his career high 16 goals in 77 games. This season, he’s on pace for 30 goals. Bourque was acquired this summer from the Blackhawks for future considerations.
Curtis Glencross has missed five games with a leg injury. He had his first full practice last week and could play as early as this week.
On Saturday, Jarome Iginla was held off the point sheet for the second time in five games. Despite this, the captain still has six points in that five game span.