SUN Hockey Pool

Five subplots for the Flames this week

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. LYLE ASPINALL/QMI AGENCY

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. LYLE ASPINALL/QMI AGENCY

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:40 PM ET

CALGARY -  Give the Calgary Flames credit.

 

Just when you want to start writing them off, as was the case after that horrible road trip, which ended with the 9-0 loss in Boston, the Flames come back to life like a character in a horror movie.

They followed up their successful homestand by claiming five of six points during a tough road trip with games in San Jose, Los Angeles and Edmonton.

With the all-star break starting Thursday, it’s a very light week — just one game against the Sharks.

Still, there will be plenty to watch for.

1. Sharks lacking bite

It’s been a bit of a tough run lately for San Jose.

The Sharks still have a hold on top spot in the Pacific Division, but that grip isn’t as tight as it was a week ago.

They go into Edmonton to face the futile Oilers Monday with just one win in four games — a shootout victory over Calgary last Tuesday — and having lost to Chicago and Ottawa at home and at Vancouver to kick off this three-game Western Canada swing.

The Flames may catch a break with the Sharks having to play the night before in Edmonton, but the Oilers aren’t exactly making any teams pay the price lately.

The Flames have dropped their last four games against San Jose — two via shootout — and have just one win in the last six meetings.

This would be the right time to change that trend.

2. Red-light blues

Calgary’s six-goal outburst at the expense of the Oilers Saturday night was a sight for sore eyes on so many levels. Probably none bigger than for answering the need to start scoring more goals.

The Flames managed just four tallies in the previous four games. Sure, they somehow managed to sport a 2-1-1 record in those low-scoring affairs, but that’s not a recipe for a winning streak.

This isn’t a team with the great offensive depth you see elsewhere, especially with the Sharks, but should be averaging more than 2.41 goals per game.

Credit to the team’s defensive play — and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff — for drumming up success during those lean times, but more should be expected.

3. Will Tangs add juice?

Alex Tanguay went up to Edmonton thinking he would be in the lineup to face the Oilers, but ended up going there simply to work very hard in the morning skate.

Still, his return from a neck injury is very close, possibly Tuesday’s clash with the Sharks.

With the team’s current offensive struggles, Tanguay could provide a big boost. You know he’s thought hard about being able to set up Michael Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla, who both fire one-timers that suit Tanguay’s passing game.

That said, it’ll be another week before the next game, and if the Flames want to give Tanguay more time to heal, it may be worth the wait.

4. Pacific heights

How the Flames fare against the five Pacific Division teams will go a long way to deciding their playoff fate.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Flames hadn’t even faced a Pacific Division club this season, meaning they had 20 of their final 38 games against San Jose, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix and Anaheim.

So far, the Flames have a 2-1-1 record against the Pacific. A winning record in those 20 games is a necessity. Anything short will most likely mean a third straight season without a playoff berth.

5. Kip, Kip hooray

Maybe Miikka Kiprusoff will receive his due if the Flames earn a trip to the playoffs.

Right now, though, the club’s No.-1 netminder has received pretty much no attention outside the Stampede City, despite putting together a very good season.

Moreover, the 2006 Vezina Trophy winner has been sparkling of late.

In the last seven games, Kiprusoff has allowed just 11 goals.

At age 35, he’s still got it, and the Flames are mighty thankful for it.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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