Burning Flames questions

Will Jarome Iginla break out in the month of November? (Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency)

Will Jarome Iginla break out in the month of November? (Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:35 PM ET

CALGARY - Since they're in 14th place in the NHL's Western Conference, the Calgary Flames have to make up ground in a hurry, even while holding a game or two in hand on those clubs ahead of them.

Sure, there are still 73 games to go for the Flames, so time is on their side, but they don’t want to fall behind the pack of clubs in and around the eight playoff teams.

The Flames are staring at their chance to make up ground. After playing just twice in nine days and only five games in 15 days, the schedule starts to get hot and heavy.

Starting with Tuesday’s home clash against the Vancouver Canucks to kick off November, the Flames play three games in four nights, five games in eight nights and seven times in 12 days.

It’s a golden chance to push into that collection of squads which begins around sixth place.

The alternative, however, is to really be on the outside.

Here are five questions we have as we look ahead.

Will Iginla break out in the month of November?

With just two goals and four points in the nine games during October, it was another slow start for Jarome Iginla.

He said the back issue which kept him out of the pre-season schedule is not a factor.

So everybody is wondering whether Iginla can have yet another November to remember.

Iginla has been at a point-per-game or better during November in each of the last six seasons and reached double-digit in points during eight of 10 seasons, including a 13-goal, 20-point month in 2009-10.

The Flames are treading water without their leader scoring at will.

They’re best chance at climbing is with him in high gear.

Can Kiprusoff’s goaltending heroics continue?

Since the season-opening 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has been very, very good.

In each of the club’s last three victories, he’s been the biggest difference-maker.

Flames head coach Brent Sutter insisted Henrik Karlsson will see action in the next week, but Kiprusoff may be in the pipes for the next three games.

If he can duplicate his last six starts — 4-2-0 record, 1.68 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage — the club’s chance of stringing together more wins improves immensely.

Can The Flames beat playoff squads?

Last year’s Flames team posted a horrible 9-16-9 record against the Western Conference teams which made the playoffs.

Their record was 4-4-1 against the top eight from the Eastern Conference

This week, the Flames will face three teams which made the playoffs last season — the Canucks, the Detroit Red Wings and the Buffalo Sabres — and another which is off to a strong start with all kinds of young talent in the Colorado Avalanche.

To be among the best, you have to beat the best, and the Flames must do a better job of it.

They still must make hay against lesser-light teams.

But it can’t be a surprise upset every time you beat a top-flight club.

Can the fourth line keep it going?

The Canucks benefit from yet another strong offensive season from the Sedins. Both Henrik and Daniel have 13 points in nine outings.

However, the Canucks get big production from their bottom lines.

Chris Higgins has five goals already, while Maxim Lapierre has three markers.

To their end, the Flames fourth-liners — right now, it’s only wingers Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos because the club has been dressing only 11 forwards — have been very good of late.

Kostopoulos scored in the last game, while Jackman had two helpers.

Morever, Jackman led the Flames in scoring against the Canucks last season, with four goals in six games.

“That’s what I’m thinking about now,” Jackman said. “I had success against these guys, and I know how I like to play against them. I’m looking forward to it.”

Is it Horak or Score-Rak?

Everybody has to be surprised at the offensive output from Flames rookie Roman Horak. He has five points in seven games, including a goal and an assist in each of the last two outings.

It’s even more incredible when you remember Horak didn’t collect a single point in the pre-season yet made the opening-day roster.

The 20-year-old, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2009, remains a strong defensive player but would garner more attention around the league if he keeps it going.


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