Beasts of the east

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

There's no time to bask in the glory of their first truly successful road trip of the season.

After collecting seven points out of a possible 10 during their recent five-game jaunt, the Calgary Flames now have the unenviable task of hosting the offensively gifted Ottawa Senators tomorrow night.

"It's going to be a good challenge," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, whose three-point night Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over the Devils in New Jersey put him ahead of Guy Chouinard for sixth place on the Flames' all-time scoring list. "Everybody knows how good Ottawa is and how offensive they are. They play a great defensive game, too. We're looking forward to this.

"We've seen them a lot. They're a high-powered team so it should be fun to compete against them. I imagine our fans are going to be pretty jacked to see them up close, too."

Fans, especially those sitting at ice level, will appreciate the speed and skill possessed by Senators such as Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Calgarian Dany Heatley -- who rank second through fourth, respectively, in NHL scoring going into last night.

The Sens have potted a league-high 115 goals in just 25 games (an average of 4.6 per contest) heading into last night's tilt with the Vancouver Canucks. Ottawa also boasts top marks in the goals-against category with just 52 allowed. The Senators may not be able to match the blueline depth of the Flames but it's tough to score on a team that spends little time in their own zone.

Flames rearguard Andrew Ference said an aggressive stance by Calgary defenders might be their best bet to slowing down Ottawa.

"You have to realize what they want to do," said Ference yesterday. "They have a lot more guys, compared to a lot of teams, that would like to carry the puck a little bit more. They're not going to be dump-and-chase as much as some of the teams that we see.

"As a team, defensively especially, you have to realize that and know that you can't expect them to do the average play because that's what will get you a step out of position if you try to predict what they're going to do."

Adjusting to the Senators' attack will be a difficult test for the Flames' blueline.

"That's kind of the thing with a real talented team with talented players," Ference continued. "It's unpredictable on D so you just have to be on your toes, expect the extra move, expect the guy to try to challenge you one on one. You have to be ready for that.

"As a defenceman, the only way you can combat that is by playing tight and not giving them 10, 20 feet to make those plays. Contrary to what some people might believe, you can't just sit back and let these people come at you and play a defensive shell game. You have to get up in people's faces and you have to be aggressive. Really force the issue on them.

"You give somebody room and they'll kill you if they've got skill."

Fellow defenceman Bryan Marchment, who will be inserted into the Flames' lineup because of Roman Hamrlik's knee injury, agrees a physical gameplan is important.

"It's a 20-man effort," said Marchment. "You have to go out and play physical, stick to the game notes the coaches have put forth. It's a big challenge for our hockey club. They're the best team on that side so far and we want to be the best team by Saturday night on our side."

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MEASURING UP TO THE SENATORS

* GOALS FOR

OTTAWA SENATORS: 115

CALGARY FLAMES: 73

* GOALS AGAINST

OTTAWA SENATORS: 52

CALGARY FLAMES: 72

* SHOTS

OTTAWA SENATORS: 887

CALGARY FLAMES: 894

* PLUS PLAYERS

OTTAWA SENATORS: 21

CALGARY FLAMES: 11

* HAT-TRICK PLAYERS

OTTAWA SENATORS: FOUR

CALGARY FLAMES: ZERO

* 20-GOAL SCORERS (projected)

OTTAWA SENATORS: SIX

CALGARY FLAMES: TWO

* 50-POINT SCORERS (projected)

OTTAWA SENATORS: SEVEN

CALGARY FLAMES: TWO


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