CALGARY, AB -- After kicking off the stretch drive with a 4-0 loss to divisional rivals, the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames were looking to get back on track and get their offense going. They did just that.
The Flames had two five-goal games and have been able to put themselves within a point of the playoffs thanks to hard work in front of the net. Gritty goals may not be pretty but according to head coach Brent Sutter, they're that the team needs in order to succeed.
"If we want to have success, if we want to score, that’s what we have to do,” Sutter said on Saturday morning. “It’s been talked about since Day 1 at training camp. We need to be a team that gets into those areas. There’s not a lot of pretty goals scored in the National Hockey League because of the parity level. It’s not a glorious area to go into when you know you’re going to get beat on a little bit, but it’s an area that’s glorious in the fact that you get rewarded.”
Another thing that the team needs to keep their winning streak alive is to have their captain on top of his game. Sunday saw Jarome Iginla have one of his best games of the season, scoring a hat trick and providing some excellent defensive play in his own zone and neutral ice.
Newcomer Steve Staios says seeing a perfomance like that from a player that is known as a sniper is unusual and uplifts the entire bench.
"That’s the thing - there’s guys in the league who can score a bunch of goals, but you don’t see them doing those types of things that help teams win," Staios told the assembled media on Sunday afternoon. "That’s got to be the most impressive thing about a player like that — there’s other guys that can go out and score hat tricks, but I guarantee that those aren’t the guys backchecking and playing physical."
The Flames continue on their quest for the post-season with three games this week, including one against their biggest hurdle in making it into the playoffs: the Detroit Red Wings.
Flames vs. Red Wings, Tuesday, Mar. 9, 5:00 p.m. MST at the Joe Louis Arena, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
|Pavel Datsyuk |
WHO IS HOT: Pavel Datsyuk came back from the Olympics on fire. The Russian forward has been on a torrid pace since returning to action on Mar. 1, collecting six points (2 g, 4 a) in four games. He was a force to be reckoned with on Sunday when the Wings defeated the Blackhawks 5-4, scoring the game winner late in the second period.
WHO IS NOT: Veteran forward Kris Draper hasn't been able to produce any sort of offense since returning from the Olympic break. In the four games he's played since Mar. 1, he has zero points and is a -1. Overall, Draper has picked up seven goals and 11 points in 64 games this campaign.
LEADING SCORERS: Datsyuk is leading the charge for the Wings offensively. In 63 games played this season, the 31 year-old has potted 19 goals and has 55 points. He leads his team in both goals and points. Trailing right behind him is Henrik Zetterberg. The winger has scored 18 goals and has 53 points in 57 games played. In his past five outings, he has six points (2 g, 4 a). Veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom rounds out the top three with eight goals and 40 points in his 65 games.
GOALTENDING: Heading into the 2009-10 season, most assumed Chris Osgood would be the Wings starting netminder. Jimmy Howard thought otherwise. The 25 year-old usurped that title from Osgood with a steady, dependable presence in net. He has gone 24-18-8 this season with a 2.37 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Osgood is 7-8-4 this season with a 2.97 GAA and a .890 save percentage.
INJURY UPDATE: Former Flame Todd Bertuzzi suffered a lower-body injury in the second period of Sunday's game against the Blackhawks. His status is unknown for Tuesday. Forward Kirk Maltby is listed on the Wings injured reserve.
Flames vs. Senators, Thursday, Mar. 11, 7:30 p.m. MST at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
|Daniel Alfredsson |
WHO IS HOT: While none of the Senators have been tearing it up since the NHL returned to action, captain Daniel Alfredsson has remained his steady self. He has two points in his two games back but was sidelined on Saturday when the Senators took on the Leafs thanks to a flu bug. If he's healthy enough to play on Thursday, expect him to be as dangerous as he's been all season.
WHO IS NOT: Compared to his pre-Olympic break pace, Mike Fisher has slowed down considerably since returning to action. The 29 year-old has just one assist in three games and is a -3 in that span. There is a reason for his sluggishness - almost the entire Senators team has been hit with the flu since returning to action and it has affected quite a few of the players that remain able to play. Fisher is one of those affected and his speed has been turned a notch because of it.
LEADING SCORERS: Alfredsson is sitting at the top in the Senators points race. The veteran has scored 17 goals and 51 points in 54 games this season. Chasing him is Alexei Kovalev who has potted 17 goals and 47 points in his 63 games. Fisher sits in third in points with 45 (20 g, 25 a). Leading Ottawa in goals scored is Milan Michalek who has 21 tallies and 31 points.
GOALTENDING: Goaltending has been an up-and-down affair in the nation's capital. Brian Elliott looks to be the Senators definitive starter but his inconsistencies and injuries have lead some to doubt his able to carry the workload in net. Elliott is 22-14-3 with a 2.62 GAA and a .908 save percentage. Pascal Leclaire, who has had a year filled with injury after injury, would love to move into Elliott's role and has been pressing since becoming healthy. He is 11-11-2 this season with a 3.00 GAA and a .892 save percentage. Leclaire was in net on Saturday when the Senators fell to the Leafs in a shootout.
INJURY UPDATE: The entire squad may feel the effects of the flu bug that has been traveling around the locker room and some may still be out on Thursday. Peter Regin and Alfredsson missed the game on Saturday due to feeling ill while Filip Kuba sat out with a lower-body injury. Chris Campoli and Nick Foligno are both on the injured reserve.
Flames vs. Canucks, Sunday, Mar. 14, 8:00 p.m. MST at GM Place, Sportsnet West & The FAN 960
|Henrik Sedin |
WHO IS HOT: Henrik Sedin knows he's trailing Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in the NHL points race but seems to have only pushed his desire to chase for top spot. The 29 year-old has five points in his four games back from the Olympics and played a key role in the Canucks 4-2 win over the Predators on Sunday when he scored a goal and assisted on the game-winning tally. Playing on a line with his brother Daniel and Alex Burrows, H. Sedin has been almost unstoppable all season.
WHO IS NOT: While Tanner Glass isn't expected to put up big offensive numbers in his energy role, he hasn't been able to pick up his game since the NHL returned on Mar. 1. The left winger has no points in four games and is a -2 in that span. In 59 games played this season, Glass has four goals and 10 points.
LEADING SCORERS: H. Sedin leads the Canucks in points with 85 (26 g, 59 a) in 65 games while his twin brother Daniel trails him with 60 points (16 g, 44 a) in 47 games. Ryan Kesler sits at third in points with 59 (19 g, 40 a). Burrows leads the team in goals scored with 29. In 65 games, Burrows has put up 55 points.
GOALTENDING: Roberto Luongo has hit a few rough patches since returning from his gold medal performance in the Olympics but seems to getting back into the swing of things. He was yanked when the Canucks fell the Blackhawks 6-3 last week but rebounded nicely with a 4-2 win over Nashville. Luongo is 33-18-2 this year with a 2.43 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Backing him up is Andrew Raycroft, who has gone 7-4-0 this season with a 2.32 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
INJURY UPDATE: Veteran blueliners Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchel and forward Alexandre Bolduc are on the injured reserve.