Peace on ice very unlikely

Daymond Langkow, Jarome Iginla and Marcus Nilson celebrate Flames second goal during third period...

Daymond Langkow, Jarome Iginla and Marcus Nilson celebrate Flames second goal during third period action against Minnesota Wild. (SUN/Jim Wells)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:11 PM ET

An offering of Christmas cheer likely isn't in the works for the Calgary Flames tonight.

The Vancouver Canucks aren't expected to roll out the welcome mat, offer bonbons or propose a toast to their Stampede City visitors.

Santa's arrival is so near, the NHL will close shop for a couple of days. But Daymond Langkow said he and the rest of the Flames were heading to the West Coast bracing for less-than-gracious hosts when the play the first of two straight games at GM Place (8 p.m., CBC, Fan 960).

"I'm sure they remember the games they played here back-to-back," Langkow said, noting the two victories Calgary claimed when Vancouver visited last month. "And they're a good hockey team, so we'll have to have our 'A' game to beat them."

As big as divisional games are, these next two have extra significance. The Flames head into tonight's tilt two points back of both Vancouver and Edmonton in the Northwest Division standings.

The Flames, losers of two straight, aren't the club struggling most these days. The Canucks have lost three in a row, all at home.

Canucks netminders have been victimized for 16 goals in that spell.

Still, the Flames insist they're not planning to play run-and-gun hockey with the Canucks, even if they are struggling.

"That's not our style," said Langkow. "When we've had success, a lot of games we score three goals and hold teams to one or two at the most.

"Our bread and butter is the defensive game."

That may be the game plan but it hasn't been followed this week. After a 10-game run in which the Flames posted a 7-1-2 record and allowed only 15 goals, they've surrendered 10 goals in their two straight defeats.

Langkow, who's netted seven goals in the last eight games to be the hottest of the Flames, emphatically stated he and his teammates know it's their own zone that requires the most attention.

"We'll have to buckle down in our own end and be better, more consistent," he said. "The last game we started good and had a good first period but we let it slip again."

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter was calm about the situation.

"If you mix our last two games into the last two months, nobody's too concerned," he said.


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