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Islanders continue road trip in Calgary

by David Kalan /
ISLANDERS (11-19-6) at FLAMES (18-18-3)


Last 10 -- New York 6-3-1; Calgary 6-3-1.

Season series -- This is New York's only meeting of the season with Calgary. Last year, the Islanders took their lone face off against the Flames 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum on March 25, 2010.

Big story -- New York and Calgary are both bottomfeeders in their respective conferences, but as far as cellar dwellars go, these might be two of the better ones. The Islanders and Flames have both played remarkably well of late and could take a major step towards re-entering the playoff hunt with a win Monday.

Team Scope:

Islanders -- The Islanders are 14th overall in the East and 17 points off the pace for the conference's final playoff spot, but despite those considerable obstacles, things are about as good for New York as the team could hope for. The Isles have won four of their last five games, with their last two outings a particularly impressive set of back-to-back victories over League heavyweights Pittsburgh and Detroit.

With those last two wins in tow and 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick John Tavares playing like a future star with 10 points in his last eight games, the Isles have suddenly become active in the trade market, dealing goaltender Dwayne Roloson Saturday for minor-league defenseman Ty Wishart. That dealy likely wouldn't have come without the recent play of Rick DiPietro. While DiPietro's history of injury woes is well-documented, he has won his last two starts and looked good doing it, stopping 67 of 70 shots.

Flames -- Calgary appeared on the brink of turmoil last week when general manager Darryl Sutter announced he was resigning on Dec. 28. While many assumed this was an ominous portent for head coach -- and Sutter's brother -- Brent Sutter, the Flames are unlikely to make a change if they continue winning.

And win they have.

Calgary has won four straight games, with the latest a 2-1 victory over provincial rival Edmonton in a Jan. 1 renewal of the Battle of Alberta. While captain Jarome Iginla saw a five-game point streak come to an end Saturday, he has hardly carried the offensive burden alone. Alex Tanguay has five points in his last four games, while Olli Jokinen, a surprise signing in the offseason, has 11 points in his last 11 games.

Who's hot -- PA Parenteau's OT-winner in Detroit on New Year's Eve punctuated a recent stretch in which the New York winger has tallied five goals and three assists in the last eight games. ... A large reason for Calgary's recent run is goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who has won his last four starts while furnishing a 1.72 goals-against average.

Injury report -- The Flames will be without Steve Staios, who was put on injured reserve last month with an upper-body injury. Radek Martinek is out for the Islanders after being placed on IR last month with a left wrist injury, while Jack Hillen is listed as questionable for personal reasons.

Stat pack -- The Islanders have certainly been improved of late, but a rough start to the season is likely to leave them having taken a step back overall. Last season New York finished with 79 points, but having accrued just 28 in their first 36 games this season, the Islanders are on pace to finish with just 63 this time around.

Puck drop -- With the change in Calgary's front office last week, this is a tenuous time for the Flames. Interim GM Jay Feaster, a Stanley Cup winner with Tampa Bay, might be inclined to bring his own choice in to coach the Flames next season, but with a playoff berth still possible and the team playing as if it wants Sutter to stay on board, the course of Calgary's future may currently be being charted.

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