Anaheim, CA – The Anaheim Ducks have won nine straight home games. All after losing their home opener to the Vancouver Canucks, which remains their only home loss. The Calgary Flames (9-8-4) visit Honda Center tonight as they look to keep their own little streak going. They are coming off wins over the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. In fact, the Flames have won four of their last six. The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 2-0 victory of the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 3 of their mid-season playoff series.
It certainly helps a franchise start to win games when they get their franchise goalie back into the mix. Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff returned to the lineup against the Sharks after being out for a month with a sprained ankle. Since joining the Flames in 2003-2004 in a trade with the Sharks, Kiprusoff has been one of the few consistent players for the Flames in recent years. Something that has not been consistent with the Flames is their offense as a whole. In 2009-2010, their offense ranked 29th in the league in scoring. In 2010-2011, their offense ranked 8th in the league. Then, in 2011-2012, their offense ranked 24th. So, naturally this season their offense is on the upswing. Leading the way on offense as always for the Flames is their tenured captain Jarome Iginla. He’s been one of my personal favorite players for a while. There really isn’t anything that he isn’t good at. However, he has to log a lot of ice time in order for the Flames to be successful, so he has to try to limit his physical play.
Along with Iginla, the Flames have other solid veteran leaders in Alex Tanguay and Mike Cammalleri. Iginla leads the team in points (18), Tanguay is second (17), and Cammalleri is third (16). Forward Lee Stempniak also has 16 points and is one of only four players on the team to be above even in plus/minus. They are Matt Stajan (+7), Stempniak (+4), free agent signee Jiri Hudler (+2) and T.J. Brodie (+1). Speaking of Hudler, he has been a nice addition. He’s in a bit of a goalless drought, which is up to 10 games. However, he has six assists in the last three games. Calgary is currently missing center Mikael Backlund who is a young forward who the Flames are depending on to develop into a franchise player. Another guy they’re depending on is 20-year-old Sven Baertschi. He is probably their best prospect. The two big names on defense for the Flames are Jay Bouwmeester and Dennis Wideman, who signed a very expensive contract over the summer. Fellow defenseman Mark Giordano is a solid all-around defenseman who doesn’t get too much notoriety outside of Calgary.
As I stated earlier, their offense is on the upswing this season. They currently rank 11th in scoring at 2.90 goals per game. With Kiprusoff out for a month, they gave up a lot of goals. They are ranked 28th in the league with a 3.14 goals allowed per game. Once again, the Flames special teams rankings reflects these two previous rankings. Their power play is going at 20.5 % clip right now, good enough for 8th in the league. Their penalty kill is going at a 79.7 % clip right now, which puts them 19th in the league. Which will need to be on its game tonight since the Ducks remain 1st in the league on the power play (29.2 %). Overall, this franchise has been around .500 for what seems like years. They are stuck in that dead zone where they never get a top pick but are never good enough to win anything. Also, their prospect system is one of the weakest in the league.
Like how it’s been all season long, I can’t say enough about how well the team is playing. You never know who is gonna be the offensive star night in and night out. Although it is always a safe bet to say that Ryan Getzlaf, who is extremely hot to start the month of March (3 G, 3 A in 4 GP), Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan will have some kind of impact offensively. Jonas Hiller is coming off a shutout performance in the Ducks last game. So, I think the Bruce Boudreau will ride the hot hand in net and start Hiller. Kyle Palmieri missed the last two games with an upper body injury and is still unsure when he is going to return. The same thing for defenseman Bryan Allen who has missed the last three games with flu-like symptoms.
Tags: Alex Tanguay Anaheim Ducks Bobby Ryan Bruce Boudreau Bryan Allen Calgary Flames Corey Perry Dennis Wideman Jarome Iginla Jay Bouwmeester Jiri Hudler Jonas Hiller Kyle Palmieri Lee Stempniak Mark Giordano Matt Stajan Miikka Kiprusoff Mikael Backlund NHL Phoenix Coyotes Ryan Getzlaf San Jose Sharks Sven Baertschi T.J. Brodie Vancouver Canucks