Flames aim to burn underworked Cujo

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:07 PM ET


 Offensively, these are the dog days for the Calgary Flames.

 Strange, since it's been Curtis Joseph -- the netminder nicknamed Cujo -- at the other end of the ice who's been dogged by troubles with pucks the last two NHL seasons.

 But when you consider the lack of scoring chances generated by the Flames against Joseph and the Detroit Red Wings so far this series, it all makes sense.

 Certainly, none of the Flames forwards are wagging their tails after a couple of offensively challenged efforts heading into tomorrow's Game 3 at the Saddledome.

 "No ... I don't think anybody is too happy, except Detroit, about our offence," said feisty Flames forward Chris Clark. "Especially in the first periods of the first two games.

 "It's disappointing, I think we've had five total shots out of those first periods. We need to find a way to get shots at their net. We've had opportunities but pucks have been going wide and into the stands. We have to figure out some way of getting around it."

 No doubt the Flames are dog-tired, playing virtually every other night since these playoffs opened.

 And sniper Jarome Iginla is getting special attention from the Wings' veteran blueliners.

 Judging from previous playoff seasons, Cujo is either stealing the show or letting it get away from him.

 He made a rookie splash in the early 1990s with the St. Louis Blues. Then he spearheaded the Edmonton Oilers to first-round upsets in two straight post-seasons before backstopping the Toronto Maple Leafs to within three wins and one win of the Stanley Cup final in '99 and 2002, respectively.

 But last spring with the Red Wings, he took a lot of heat for the defending champion's early exit in a four-game sweep by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

 This spring, Joseph's been rather unassuming in five games since replacing a jilted Manny Legace during Game 4 of the first-round series against the pesky Nashville Predators. He's faced relatively little pressure in allowing five goals on 83 shots and registering a 3-1 record against the Predators and Flames combined.

 "I think he's looked really comfortable in the net," said Wings captain Steve Yzerman. "He hasn't played much lately, which is difficult. But he's responded very well. Obviously we're thrilled with that."

 The Flames would be thrilled just testing the veteran 'tender more often. They've fired just 18 and 16 shots at him in Games 1 and 2, respectively.


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