WHIPPING BOY NO MORE
After the morning skate, Matt Stajan acknowledged he had been the recepient of a fair amount of criticism from outside sources after the 2010-11 season concluded. "There's always a whipping boy in every city. If it's me, it's me. That's fine," he said. Stajan responded to those critics in the perfect fashion on Tuesday night, setting Curtis Glencross up beautifully for the opening goal. While the Flames were down a man, Jay Bouwmeester sent a pass from the neutral zone and hit Matt Stajan right on the tape. The pivot weaved through a few Islanders and made an excellent pass through a seam to Glencross. The winger cut across the net and backhanded it over Evgeni Nabokov's blocker to make it a 1-0 affair.
KARLSSON GOES THE LENGTH
Henrik Karlsson carried the goaltending load on Tuesday night and he did not disappoint as he recorded a shutout against the Islanders. The netminder wasn't busy for most of the game as New York was only able to put 13 shots on him. "You have to stay focused. I think there was like four shots in first and like three in the second," he said. "Some games are like that. You have to manage to play good in those kind of games." Prior to Tuesday's win, Karlsson had played in two games. Both tilts featured he and Miikka Kiprusoff splitting the workload.
HORAK CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
The 20 year-old center has surpassed all expectations placed on him before the start of training camp and on Tuesday, he showed once again why he's one of the few rookies remaining on the roster. Placed on a line with Alex Tanguay and Lee Stempniak, Horak looked quite comfortable on the top line. His two-way game was top notch, he read plays perfectly and for the second straight game, earned post-game plaudits from head coach Brent Sutter. "He was certainly very noticeable again tonight in a lot of different ways."
BIG NIGHT FOR THE BIRTHDAY BOY
Bouwmeester's 28th birthday was a productive one. He assisted on Glencross' second period short-handed tally when he sent a great stretch pass through the neutral zone and nearly connected with the back of the net a couple of times. In addition to his even-strength work, Bouwmeester has given the Flames special teams a boost. Over the past two games, he has seen a shift in his role on the power play. Instead of being placed on the blueline, he has been stationed in front of the net and while it hasn't paid off on the scoresheet yet, it looks very promising as he's had several excellent scoring opportunities.
NEW FLAMES BRING THE HEAT
Fans got a taste of what they can expect to see from new Flames Lee Stempniak and Chris Butler in the tilt. Stempniak's speed crippled the Islanders defence several times and he drew a couple of penalties after forcing them to haul him down as he danced through the offensive zone. He was able to send a wrister past Mikko Koskinen in the third period, scoring his first in a Flames jersey. Butler, who has been paired with Bouwmeester for much of the preseason, also put forth an impressive effort. He assisted on Stempniak's goal, was a +2, played 21:05 and recorded two blocked shots in the victory.