by Marc Ciampa
October 10th, 2002

TONIGHT'S GAME:

Tonight the Flames begin their most anticipated season arguably since 1989-90, the season following their first Stanley Cup victory. The face of the team since the beginning of Craig Button's tenure as general manager has changed drastically and for once the Calgary Flames are starting to get some respect with the exception of the Winnipeg Free Press's Scott Taylor, who picked the Flames to finish dead-last in their division.

Gone since last season is Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, Dave Lowry, Ronald Petrovicky, Jamie Allison, Jukka Hentunen, Clarke Wilm, Igor Kravchuk and Jeff Shantz. New arrivals include Jordan Leopold, who was a member of last year's NCAA champions, Martin Gelinas, who was a member of the Stanley Cup finalists, Chuck Kobasew, who won the NCAA championship two seasons ago, Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle, who won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago. The team's core including Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Jarome Iginla is filled with players who have won recently and are hungry to win again. The attitude is different and Flames fans hope and pray that the results are different as well.

The Flames have lost four straight home games to the Canucks, dating back to December 29, 2000. All-time the Flames are 98-57-30-01 against the Canucks. In Calgary, the Flames have a dominant 46-18-10-0 record.

BY THE NUMBERS:

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks were two teams heading in opposite directions throughout the 2001-02 NHL season. The Canucks opened the season with only nine points in October while the Flames flew out of the gate with 18 (8-2-0-2 record). In January, the Flames only managed ten points (5-8-0-0) while Vancouver led the league with 22 (10-2-1-1). Down the stretch, the Canucks finished the season with a 4-0-1-0 record to inch past the Oilers into the final playoff spot. Last season the Flames allowed 76 of their 216 goals against in the first period of play, while the Canucks scored 85 out of their 250 goals in the opening frame. Last season, for the first time ever an NHL team and its affiliate both led their respective leagues in scoring Vancouver with 250 and the Manitoba Moose with 273. The Canucks and Flames boasted the top two lines in the league respectively in 2001-02. Calgary's Iginla-Conroy-McAmmond line had 221 points while Vancouver's Naslund-Bertuzzi-Morrison line had 236.

ROSTER UPDATES:

Calgary: Jordan Leopold (concussion) is out.

Vancouver: Matt Cooke, Artem Chubarov and Jan Hlavac all missed the latter half of preseason due to injury but all three should be back in the line-up tonight.

WHO TO WATCH:

Calgary: Chris Drury will be playing in his first official NHL game as a Flame, and should be in fine form tonight. In his previous two pre-season games he got the game-winning goal in each. Marc Savard's name has come up in numerous trade rumours this past week so it will be interesting to see how well he plays alongside linemates Martin Gelinas and Chuck Kobasew.

Vancouver: Wearing number 61, Fedor Fedorov will be an interesting player to watch tonight. He is an immensely talented hockey player who several Canucks organization insiders say will benefit from the high-level play of the National Hockey League. He's come a long way after playing last season in the ECHL before succumbing to a season-ending eye injury Defenceman Bryan Allen is on the bubble after an average pre-season that saw him win the sixth defence position by default.

QUOTABLE:

"I feel really good. It's just a bit of a precautionary thing now but I'm getting better every day. It's really not my decision whether I should play right now and we're just looking at the long term and how things turn out. I'm alert and attentive, I'm not groggy or anything. I'm very aware of what's going on. I'm just like I was before and feel good but we're just being careful with things and that's the right way to do things." Flames defenceman Jordan Leopold, recovering from his second career concussion. He is not expected to be in the lineup for tonight's game.

"Three or four shots a game, that's my goal,"Flames forward Rob Niedermayer, who's looking to turn around his career in a big way this season. With time on the number one power play unit, he's going to get all the chances in the world to succeed.

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Last Five games against the Canucks:

Overall

Home

Road

04/13/02 vs. VAN 4-1 L
02/09/02 at VAN 4-3 W
02/08/02 vs. VAN 1-4 L
01/26/02 vs. VAN 0-2 L
12/27/01 at VAN 2-4 L

4/13/02 vs. VAN 1-4 L
02/08/02 at VAN 0-2 L
01/26/02 vs. VAN 0-2 L
01/27/01 vs. VAN 3-5 L
12/29/00 vs. VAN 5-0 W

02/09/02 at VAN 4-3 W
12/27/01 at VAN 2-4 L
02/10/01 at VAN 4-1 W
01/14/01 at VAN 1-5 L
10/18/00 at VAN 1-4 L

 

NEXT MEETING: The Canucks and Flames meet again on Monday in Vancouver.

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