Flames-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Calgary Flames (22-13-3-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (23-10-8-3).
TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
By compiling the longest point streak by any NHL team this season, the
Toronto Maple Leafs reached the top of the Eastern Conference.
They haven't looked much like an elite team since.
Still leading the East, the Maple Leafs will try to avoid a third straight
defeat when they take on the Calgary Flames in the finale of a four-game
Toronto went 14-0-1-1 from Nov. 22-Dec. 26 to tie the best point streak in
the NHL since the 1999-2000 season, when points were first awarded for overtime
losses. However, the Leafs have won just twice in eight games since (2-4-2),
and have managed only one goal in losing their last two contests.
Two days after an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Ottawa, the Leafs lost 1-0 to New
Jersey on Saturday. Both defeats came at the Air Canada Centre, where the Maple
Leafs had been unbeaten in regulation in their previous 12 games (10-0-1-1).
"We haven't had a lot of practices in the last while," Leafs coach Pat
Quinn told the Toronto Sun. "And sometimes, when you play two pretty good
checking teams as we have, unless your team game is sharp, you'll have trouble
The bright spot in Saturday's loss was the return of No. 1 goaltender Ed
Belfour, who made 32 saves after sitting out the previous three games with a
Belfour may be in net again to face a Calgary team that appears to be
getting on track offensively.
The Flames have 13 goals in their last four games, including three wins,
following a seven-game stretch during which they scored just 10 times.
Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist in Saturday's 4-2 win over
Florida, and was named the NHL's offensive player of the week Monday. He had
five goals and five assists in four games last week.
Calgary is the league's most improved club at the halfway point, 13 points
ahead of its total through 41 games last season.
"We have been young and we are all one year older. We are more mature,"
Iginla said. "We are more comfortable in the final minute of a game holding
onto a lead. We are more comfortable battling back in the third period trying
to get a goal."
Leafs winger Gary Roberts, who spent his first 10 NHL seasons with Calgary,
will be playing in his 1,000th game. There will be a pregame ceremony at Air
Canada Centre to honor the achievement and Roberts will take the opening
faceoff against his former team.