Skip to main content

Avalanche-Flames Preview

NHL.com @NHL

Jarome Iginla knows the Calgary Flames haven't been at their best lately, but he hasn't lost confidence in their ability to win the Northwest Division.

Iginla looks to help the Flames' bounce back from a disappointing road trip and improve their chances for the division title as they face the rival Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Calgary (37-26-10) posted a four-game winning streak from Feb. 19-24, but has since lost six of its last 10 games after going 1-3-0 on a road trip that ended with a 3-0 loss at Columbus on Tuesday.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 35 saves for the Flames, who were shut out for the first time since Feb. 4 after totaling 17 goals in their previous four games.

"It's that last push to the end of the regular season," said Iginla, whose four-game point streak ended. "Teams are raising their game, intensity and their physical play. This road trip we didn't respond."

This slump dropped them into a three-way tie with Vancouver and Colorado (39-29-6) for second in the Northwest - three points behind Minnesota - and sixth in the Western Conference.

"It should not be hard for guys to get motivated just looking at the standings," center Wayne Primeau told the Flames' official Web site. "The main reason why we play this game is to make the playoffs and push for that ultimate goal, which is the Stanley Cup."

Calgary is trying to make its fourth straight playoff appearance and win the division for the second time in that stretch. The Flames' remaining nine games are all against Northwest rivals - including two more against the Avalanche, who are 4-2-0 versus Calgary.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore, left, is 4-2-0 versus the Calgary Flames this season.  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

"These next nine games are not going to be (about) work or X's and O's," Iginla said. "It's going to be about passion and how bad we want it. This is the playoffs before the playoffs."

Calgary will compete for the crown against Colorado, which won five straight Northwest titles from 1999-2003, and seeks to reach the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons after missing out last year.

The Flames play four of their next five at Pengrowth Saddledome, where they are 7-2-2 against Colorado since the start of 2005-06. However, they have lost three of the last four, including a 3-2 overtime defeat on Feb. 26 in the teams' most recent matchup.

Colorado is also in a bit of a funk, dropping back-to-back games after winning eight of its previous nine. Joe Sakic scored the lone goal in a 3-1 loss at Minnesota on Monday in the opener of the Avalanche's three-game road trip.

Jose Theodore made 26 saves, but they went just 1-for-6 on the power play. Colorado now faces a Calgary team that has killed off 33 of 39 penalties its last eight games.

"We'll execute that and find ways to capitalize on it because it's very important down the stretch and in the playoffs," left wing Ryan Smyth said. "It was a crucial part of (Monday's) game."

Meanwhile, Iginla - the Flames' leader with 45 goals and 87 points - has four goals and three assists versus Colorado this season. In 63 all-time meetings, he has 23 goals and 55 points - his most against any team.

View More