The Flames hit the road for a brief Northwest division road trip, starting tonight in Minnesota.
After stunning fans with a late game comeback win in Sunday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Flames are rolling on a two-game winning streak for only the second time this season, and will look to stay in the win column tonight when they visit the Minnesota Wild.
This is the third time the Flames will be playing the Wild in just over two weeks, so you have to imagine the two teams are getting pretty sick of each other by now. One player who is definitely fired up for the Flames is captain Jarome Iginla, who made the Coyotes pay on Sunday night both on the scoreboard and on the physical side of things. Iginla continues to lead the Flames in shots on goal with 63 in 17 games, but has a shooting percentage of just 4.8%, so the Wild will need to pay careful attention to his whereabouts on the ice tonight as it appears things are starting to even out a bit for the captain just over a month into the shortened season.
Elsewhere for the Flames, Curtis Glencross also seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch with a goal and an assist at Phoenix's expense after going without a point in four consecutive games. He's been relatively quiet in his career against Minnesota though, with just four goals and ten points in 25 career games.
There's no question that the Flames will need to outscore the Wild tonight if they hope to keep the streak alive, and offence was what saved their collective butts in the last game, but they'll also need to be much better in their own zone tonight and avoid making the kind of mistakes that allow teams with skilled players like the Wild to capitalize.
There were some unfortunate bounces in the Coyotes game (like the goal that went in off Jay Bouwmeester's skate), but the majority of Phoenix's goals were scored due to defensive zone giveaways by the Flames after failing multiple times to escape their own zone and an overall lack of any sort of take-charge, aggressive play in the d-zone like challenging the puck-carrier and forcing giveaways. Not the mention losing an excessive number of defensive zone draws, which makes it all the more difficult to clear the zone when you don't have possession.
The Flames have a few pretty good players on defence and there's no reason for them to look so tentative in their own end all the time. The difference between their play in the d-zone and the play of the Phoenix Coyotes, who made it quite difficult for the Flames to set up, complete passes, and maintain possession for extended periods of time for most of the game, was stark.
Miikka Kiprusoff is practicing and is getting closer to a return, but until (and preferably after) then, the Flames will need to work harder to limit their own-zone brain farts.
Projected Lines and Pairings:
Go Flames Go.