by Marc Ciampa
November 26th, 2002
|Spread it Around!: Contributions from players like Chris Clark and Chuck Kobasew put the Flames on winning terms again.
The Calgary Flames (6-9-3-3; 5th Northwest Division) have finally broken free of the seven-game winless skid that saw them score one goal or less in every single game. With three goals Saturday night against Chicago, the Flames managed to give themselves at least a little bit of confidence before heading out on a difficult road trip.
That road trip starts tonight in Boston, against the Bruins (13-3-3-1; 1st Northeast Division). Following this evening's game, Calgary visits Washington, St. Louis, Detroit and Colorado. It could very easily be the road trip that defines the rest of the season as an 0-5 record would leave the club far behind a playoff spot. If you think an 0-5 record is incomprehensible for the Flames, consider that each and every one of the upcoming teams view the visiting Flames as a gift two points.
The Bruins prove to be a particularly difficult opponent. They currently rank second overall in the league – 12 points ahead of the Flames. They have earned points in every game this month save for one and only have two losses in their last 20. In addition to all that, they're 7-1-1 at the Fleet Center. Everyone and their newspaper carrier knows the result of tonight's game.
The opportunity to prove everyone wrong for the Flames begins right now.
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
- Defence. Everything is starting to return to normal now for the Flames but hopefully the defence doesn't slip as a result of Turek being back in goal. If they can continue their strong defensive play and chip in once in a while they might be able to steal a point or two out of this one.
- The old cliché. Take this road trip one game at a time. As a whole it looks extremely difficult but taken in stages they have an outside shot at a .500 record.
BY THE NUMBERS:
With Jamie McLennan in goal, the Flames averaged only 1.27 goals-per-game. With Turek the team averages 2.96… The scoreless drought not only impacted the loss column; it also hurt a number of Calgary's statistics. The Flames are now 29th in the league in offence (2.10 goals-per-game), 27th in shots-per-game (26.0) and 28th in shooting percentage (8.1%)… The Bruins are going to be a tough team to contain tonight. They average 3.40 goals per game – tops in the NHL. Defensively Boston is also very good. Fourth in goals-against average (2.15) and second in save percentage (.925). Goaltender John Grahame has been simply outstanding this season. He has a 1.89 GAA and .932 save percentage… Despite the Bruins' defensive prowess, they have yet to register a shutout this season… Calgary's team defensive record continues to get better. Their goals-against average now sits 13th in the league and their save percentage is ninth (.909)… Through all their struggles, the Flames are still above .500 on the road (4-3-0-2).
Calgary: Bob Boughner (broken thumb) is out. Jamie Wright (neck) is unlikely to suit up.
Boston: Martin Lapointe (fractured left foot) should return to the lineup tonight after suffering the injury on October 17 in Calgary. Glen Murray (charley horse) is expected to play. Josef Stumpel (wrist), Sergei Samsonov (hand) are out. P.J. Axelsson (knee) is questionable.
WHO TO WATCH:
Calgary: Chris Clark has been having a very solid season for the Flames and always manages to step up his game when playing in Boston. Chris Drury as well is overdue for a big game… One of these nights Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy are going to have to start scoring again.
Boston: Having received the "C" Joe Thornton has stepped up and become a true leader on this hockey club. He has 10 goals and 26 points thus far this season, tied for second in the league… Bryan Berard is enjoying a resurgence in Boston. In 20 games, he has five goals and 11 points. All last season he had two goals and 23 points… Nick Boynton is starting to reach his potential as a strong stay-at-home defenceman. He has a +16 rating this season.
"It was a pinched nerve, coming out of my spine, that runs to my shoulder. When it was pinched, it was compressed, and now it's bruised. The big issue, after (the incident), was the fatigue factor in the muscle. The doctors said that since it's a nerve injury, involving the spine, you need a full range of motion and full strength back before you can play."—Flames forward Jamie Wright, who is close to returning to game action.
"His injuries his last couple of years have been very difficult for him. I think that's the basis of it,"—Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell making excuses for defenceman Kyle McLaren, who is awaiting a trade and has yet to play a game this season.
"It's something we carry in our jockstraps, the determination to prove everyone wrong."—Bruins captain Joe Thornton. Boston was predicted by most experts to miss the playoffs this season, with the key departures of Bill Guerin, Byron Dafoe and Kyle McLaren.
Earlier this season, Calgary and Boston skated to a 3-3 draw at the Saddledome.
FLAMES LAST 10 GAMES vs. BRUINS
: The Flames and Bruins don't meet again this season.