Try this Jacket on for size

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

As the Calgary Flames ready to face the San Jose Sharks tonight, they're riding a two-game winning streak.

The Flames have begun their seven-game home stand on the right note with victories over Los Angeles and Edmonton.

To take their success back a little further, too, you can see they've won four of five in a spell they've not lost in regulation (4-0-1).

Clearly, a team on the rise, right?

Definitely a team to watch climb the standings, huh?

Surely a team not to be trifled with, eh?

Or, maybe not.

Consider the words of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto on the weekend, as he chastised a San Jose Sharks team that has gone through a win-one-lose-one string from the start of the season.

On the heels of a loss to the always-potent Detroit Red Wings, Ratto let it be known the Sharks failed the test against the Wings in one of those games "people notice more than your run-of-the-mill Columbus or Calgary."

There you have it: The Calgary Flames in the same category as the Columbus Blue Jackets.

A team that in the last three seasons has made the playoff each time, went to the Stanley Cup finals once and claimed a division title, compared to a team that is yet to make the playoffs in franchise history, and seems to be taking steps backward at times.

Now that's biting.

But is it really offside?

Certainly, you can't compare the Flames to the Columbus Blue Jackets. If the Flames, who awoke yesterday with the best offensive output per game in the Western Conference, don't make the playoffs, there will be a massive uprising.

If the Blue Jackets, yet to even come close to making the playoffs in their first six seasons, miss again, it'll be same-old, same-old.

That's not just looking at the history of both teams, it's looking at their talent.

Still, the Flames have yet to prove they're NHL heavyweights this season.

Consider their four victories. Nashville is tied with Phoenix for last in the conference, while Los Angeles and Edmonton are only ahead of those clubs by two points.

Of the four teams Calgary has upended this season, the only one currently in a playoff position is Dallas. And even if the Sharks aren't quite right, tonight's affair is a test for the Flames to see where they really stand.

Calgary's 4-1 victory over Edmonton can be considered the club's most complete game of the season.

It's the first time the Flames held their opposition to one or fewer goals, while the shot count was as one-sided as the final score, the powerplay struck three times and the penalty killers were perfect.

The Sharks may be looking more like Nemo than Jaws these days, but they're still a bigger challenge for a Flames team that is bringing Eric Nystrom from the minors and inserting Mark Smith into the lineup with Wayne Primeau and David Moss knocked out long-term due to injuries.

A win will make a much-needed statement for the Flames. A loss will continue to make them appear to be a middle-of-the-road squad.

ICE CHIPS

With an average of 3.62 goals per game (29 goals in eight contests), the Flames sit fourth in the league ... Jeremy Roenick (498 goals) is closing in on his bid to become the third American to reach the 500 milestone. The others are Mike Modano (508) and former Flames star Joe Mullen (502).


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