A spot among the NHL’s Western Conference’s elite eight is still within sight.
However, if the Flames don’t start cobbling together a winning streak, such a lofty perch will be out of reach before they know it.
The Flames have won two straight games only once this season, and that’s their longest winning streak so far.
They’re coming off a win over the Colorado Avalanche and desperately need to build on it starting with Tuesday night’s clash with the Ottawa Senators.
1. T.J. Brodie and Paul Byron have made the jump. Who’s next?
Without another move, such as putting David Moss on the injured list or making a trade, the Flames can’t add another body from the minors.
However, with the infusion on energy they received from T.J. Brodie and Paul Byron — especially in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche — you can’t help but wonder who’s next in the youth movement.
The AHL Abbotsford Heat are led in scoring by Krys Kolonos and Jon Rheault, but Greg Nemisz has taken a big step forward by all accounts. Nemisz, the Flames’ 2008 first-round draft choice, has netted six goals and 13 points in 16 games for a Heat team which is off to a strong start.
He’s not likely a top-six player, and it’s no sure thing he ever will be, but Nemisz could come up and play on the bottom two lines.
2. So who’s next to leave?
For a team not rebuilding, the Flames are certainly making a lot of changes.
Since last season ended, the following veterans have been sent packing in various ways: Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik, Steve Staios, Fredrik Modin, Adam Pardy, Daymond Langkow, Raitis Ivanans and Niklas Hagman, who Monday was claimed by the Anaheim Ducks off re-entry waivers.
Matt Stajan has been a healthy scratch the past couple of games and has become a very expensive fourth-line centre, but it may be tough to find someone to take on his US$3.5 million cap hit.
Rene Bourque’s name has been in the trade rumours for several weeks.
It’s hard to guess who will be next, but rest assured GM Jay Feaster is working the phones and will continue to talk to his counterparts at the GM meetings.
3. Will Kipper’s strong play force the team deviate from ‘The Plan?’
The goal going into the season was for back-up netminder Henrik Karlsson to start in goal in two of every 10 games. That way, Miikka Kiprusoff would be fresher when he’s in action.
With that in mind, Tuesday’s home-clash would seem to be a perfect chance for Karlsson to play, but Flames head coach Brent Sutter said Kiprusoff will be in net.
Is it a sign of changing the program? We won’t know that, but Kiprusoff’s strong play combined with the team’s 13th-place position may force him to push that 70-game mark again.
4. Will the Flames powerplay finally click?
Yes, eventually. Unfortunately, nobody knows when it will happen, and understandably people aren’t holding their breath.
The Flames have failed to score in their last 11 chances and are on a 1-for-15 run.
The ugliness is especially noticeable at home. They’re an awful 2-for-34 at the Saddledome.
The first players to hit the ice in Monday’s practice were those who work the powerplay, and they spent a solid 15 minutes on it before the rest of the team joined them.
The Flames have spent more time practising the powerplay every week this season than they did in the two years with Mike Keenan as coach.
Eventually, they’ll get it together. We just can’t guess when.
5. When will Iggy pop off?
You have to think eventually Iginla’s game will get on track and he’ll reach the 30-goal mark for the 11th consecutive season.
However, there always comes the season when a player of his calibre tails off to become a 20-goal, 45-point player.
Right now, Iginla is on-pace for a 26-goal, 46-point campaign — well off his usual marks.
It’s a good bet he has a 30-goal, 70-point season in him still, but only if Iginla starts playing an assertive game.
6. Why do the Flames bother making trades with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
This doesn’t REALLY need an explanation, we assume.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak