Gotta be a November to remember

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

The ghosts and goblins running the streets last night were hardly Calgary's scariest sights through All Hallow's Eve.

The fear factor of those ghouls pales in comparison to the Flames' record -- 4-7-2 heading into tonight's clash with the Minnesota Wild.

Nor are they near as nasty as the lack of offensive production from the squad sitting 12th in the Western Conference.

Now that is, as Count Floyd used to say, "scary stuff."

When the NHL schedule was unveiled, it was obvious the Flames, even if they were pegged to be a top team, could be in for a tough start with nine of 13 games on the road.

The ride was rough, indeed. Up next, though, is a huge opportunity to erase what amounted to one hellish October.

Seeing as the Flames are at home in the 'Dome for all but two of their next dozen outings, it's a real opportunity to piece together a November to remember.

"It's good to be back but it's time to put some games together," said captain Jarome Iginla after yesterday's practice.

"Everybody in our locker-room knows knows how important this stretch is gonna be and where we are in the standings and where we want to be.

"But we don't want to look at the big picture. It's about learning from this road trip, learning about the things we did well and winning one game."

Even one win doesn't look like much of a sure thing since we're talking about a team that's currently riding a three-game losing streak and has one victory in five outings.

Yet Iginla firmly believes there are tangible signs he and his teammates are on the cusp of stringing a winning streak together.

On top of his rediscovered scoring touch -- six points in six games -- Iginla insists his squad is closer to hitting its stride thanks to improved defence and a better job creating offensive chances.

"By no means do we feel we're done or anything like that and can't get back into the playoffs. We believe it's possible and guys are focused. There's no panic," he said.

"Sometimes you get a feeling guys are down but we feel we're coming up.

"Sometimes with scoring chances and bounces, it doesn't always go your way but if you keep doing the right things, it will. We will get the breaks going our way and do those things with hard work. Honestly, it feels things are getting better and feels like we're ready to see some results."

That said, there are some striking problems that must be rectified.

The lack of a consistently lethal powerplay and porous penalty killing has been discussed ad nauseum.

Meanwhile, the lack of scoring, something that wasn't supposed to be as a problem, has been frightening. Through those first 13 games, the lamp has been lit only 29 times.

"We were starting to get a lot more chances, really good chances, and they'll go in if we keep getting them," Iginla said. "I think we're ready, as a team, to explode."

Of course, there's also that nasty little problem of surrendering late goals.

The recent trip ended on a low because San Jose came back from a two-goal deficit in the final five minutes.

Two nights earlier, Phoenix scored the winner with 88 ticks left on the clock.

"That's tough to take," Iginla said. "We felt we played some really good road games, we were right there and in control, but we let the points slip away.

"I don't think that hurts our confidence because we know we can be a good defensive club and we have been this year, so we'll find ways to hold those leads.

"We're aware of it and know we all need to give more."

Give and then maybe receive.

"There is still 69 games left that we can turn this around."


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