February 5, 2012
Five subplots to Flames week
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
1. Duck, duck, goose egg
The last time the Flames won a regular-season game in Anaheim, Roman Turek netted the victory in goal, while Toni Lydman, Martin Gelinas, Oleg Saprykin, Josh Green and Chris Clark scored the goals. Jarome Iginla was out due to an ankle injury.
Since that 5-1 win Jan. 19, 2004, the Flames have lost 13 straight games at Disneyland (0-9-4).
Not only have the Flames lost all those games, they’ve done it in ugly and sometimes painful fashion, too. The Flames have fallen in extra time in four of the last five outings, seemingly all of those despite having a lead at some point in the game.
Here’s another not-so-fun fact — Miikka Kiprusoff has not collected a regular-season victory in Anaheim as a member of the Flames.
Kiprusoff needs one more victory for the 300th of his career. It would feel extra good to collect that milestone win in a new location.
2. Shark bait
The Pond isn’t the only California house of horrors for the Flames lately.
Trips to San Jose’s Shark Tank have been just as nasty.
The Flames have lost four straight games at the Sharks, including a 2-1 shootout loss earlier this season in which they had a 1-0 lead going into the third period.
The Sharks have been a confounding team this season.
As good as they are, they haven’t exactly torn up the league. Their 5-4-1 record in the last 10 games attests to how up and down their season has been of late. Now, the Sharks are in a dog fight with the Los Angeles Kings for top spot in the Pacific Division, a position many people expected before the season began but not with their records.
The Sharks fill February with an upcoming nine-game road trip. They need some wins before that, so the Flames had best be careful.
3. second shot for Irving
Leland Irving last NHL appearance spanned 24 minutes in which he surrendered six goals in that infamous 9-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Jan. 5.
Irving was recalled back from the AHL Abbotsford Heat Sunday, after playing a couple of games and posting a 1-1 record, and Henrik Karlsson was sent to the minors for a two-week conditioning stint.
Prior to that game in Boston, Irving improved his stature in the organization by posting a 1-0-2 record in three starts, in which he stopped 113 of 120 shots.
With the Flames playing in San Jose and Phoenix on back-to-back nights, it’s very likely the 2006 first-round draft choice will see action.
This is a good opportunity to put that Boston debacle completely out of sight.
4. Coyote Ugly
The Phoenix Coyotes opened February with a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, a big victory considering how their fortunes have been of late.
The Coyotes had just one win in five outings going into that game. Despite their win, they have a 5-8-5 record since Christmastime.
The Flames lost all four games against the Coyotes last season and have dropped four straight in the desert, where they’ll have just as many supporters as the hosts in the seats.
It looks like the never-ending talk surrounding they Coyotes’ potential relocation may be getting to the players in the organization. Rumours about the future of captain Shane Doan and even coach Dave Tippett are out there.
5. Line of fire
The trio of Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla combined for two goals and three assists in Friday’s 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Flames need those three to be that effective for the next while.
With all the team’s injuries, the scoring depth has been decimated. This team will be without Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak for a while yet, so the onus will fall upon those three — as well as Michael Cammalleri and Mikael Backlund — to carry the bulk of the offensive weight.
At least the Jokinen, Tanguay, Iginla combination has enough veteran savvy to know what’s expected of them.